November 27, 2011
Eight Amazon countries pledged greater cooperation in efforts to protect the world's largest rainforest from deforestation and illegal mining and logging, reports AFP.
Meeting in Manaus last week, signatories of the 1978 Amazon Cooperation Treaty (OTCA) — Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela — focused on the Amazon Fund, an initiative launched by the Brazilian government in 2008 to finance conservation and sustainable development in the Amazon rainforest. Representatives coordinated a position for next June's Rio+20 conference and discussed existing agreements signed to protect the Amazon.
Brazil expressed a desire to strengthen OTCA.
"The Brazilian government is committed to revitalizing the Amazon Cooperation Treaty (OTCA)," said Brazil's Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota. "A stronger OTCA is in the interest of member states."
According to AFP, Brazil also indicated an interest in "expediting the process to implement the Amazon Fund," which has been slow to progress. To date the fund has only received donations of $58 million, well short of the one billion dollar target.
Deforestation in some parts of the Amazon has slowed in recent years, including a sharp drop in Brazil, which accounts for more than 60 percent of the Amazon rainforest. But deforestation monitoring remains poor in neighboring countries. One of the priorities for the Amazon Fund is establishing satellite-based monitoring systems outside of Brazil, which has the world's most advanced system and has recently trained technicians in Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Mexico, Gabon, Guyana, and Papua New Guinea, among others, in developing their own deforestation tracking platforms.