04 Dec 2011
The money was announced by Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, at the latest UN climate summit in Durban South Africa.
She said the money will stop illegal logging in the Cerrado, scrub forest in central Brazil that is rapidly being cleared to make way for food crops for the rich world.
It is part of a £2.9 billion climate change fund put aside by the UK Government to help poor countries adapt to global warming and cut carbon emissions up to 2015.
Environmentalists welcomed the cash but said if the UK really wants to save the forests then consumers have to stop eating cheap factory-farmed meat.
Much of the Cerrado is being destroyed to grow genetically modified soya, which is fed to pigs, chickens and cattle in the UK.
Traditionally the Amazon has been the frontline for battled over deforestation. But in recent years big farmers have moved into the Cerrado.
The huge forests, as big as the UK, France, Italy and Spain combined, is not as lush as the rainforest but contains one 20th of the world’s species including the rare giant armadillo and blue and yellow macaw.
Peasants and indigenous people are being cleared off the land to make way for the massive plantations.
Mrs Spelman said the money will support environmental registration of rural properties so that small farmers can stop the loggers coming in. It will also help peasant farmers restore vegetation on illegally cleared land and help them to prevent and manage forest farmers.
“The Cerrado is rich in biodiversity and yet, alarming, it has almost halved in size since, because of wild fires and the demand for agricultural products. If we’re going to stop the loss of biodiversity, we need to protect our forests – which house the majority of the world’s wildlife. We won’t succeed in tackling climate change unless we deal with deforestation,” she said.
The UK is pushing for a global agreement on climate change in Durban that would force all countries to reduce emissions.
The deal would include a new mechanism Reducing Emissions from Deforestation known as REDD.
The fund will hand out money to poor countries to stop deforestation.
The goal is to see global deforestation halved by 2020 and net global deforestation halted by 2030.
The UK has already handed out £300 million on top of the £2.9 billion for climate change to stop deforestation.
However there is already concern that Brazil, one of the main supporters on climate change, is reducing its targets on deforestation and other rainforest countries are plagued by corruption.
Friends of the Earth claim genetically modified soy grown on illegally cleared land is being fed to pigs and chickens on UK factory farms.
The charity say the only way to stop the problem is to reform subsidies so that farmers are encouraged to feed animals grass or locally sourced grains. Also consumers must eat less meat and cut out cheap factory farmed products.