26 September 2008

Science contributing to the economy in the Amazon

The Brazilian academy traditionally always feared working with private initiative. Research conducted for the development of economic interests was always seen as inferior to that focused in the pure knowledge. I believe, also, that this view explains the absence of private resources applied in research, which, in general are diverted to sectors where they are more welcome.

This traditional belief has been changing and I believe that the Fapeam has a fundamental role on breaking this paradigm. Successive administrations of the Sect have sought to develop lines of research directly linked to the sustainable economic exploitation of potentialities in the region.

It is in this spirit that we today have one of the most important projects of Amazonas subsidized by scientific knowledge. The project Reserve of River Juma, that is being implemented for the Foundation for Sustainable Amazonas and sponsored by the hotel chain Marriott, rises as a window we have been searching for many years in the Amazônia. My grandfather, Professor Samuel Benchimol, has for many years already stated that the solution for Amazônia would undeniably reveal itself to be preservation instead of remuneration. Successive international negotiations seem to follow in the route of mechanics of remuneration of REDD (Reduction of Emissions of Deforestation and Degradation) in new negotiations of the Kyoto Protocol, that will begin in 2013.

So that we may be remunerated, we need to pass through four phases: determination of a focus area, determination of the probability of deforestation of this area annually, gauging of the volume of carbon storage in that area, and determination of the effects that the implementation of a project that aims for the reduction of deforestation would have. A few years prior, this project would be impossible due to the lack of knowledge that we had of our forest. Today, finally, we can establish, approximately, how much carbon is in storage in one determined hectare. Also we can establish which areas of Amazônia would probably be deforested in the next years, due to extensive studies, also published in the magazine Nature.

With all these phases, proven and audited by an internationally recognized firm, we will have the financial instrument, in the form of VREs (Voluntary Reduction of Emissions), to get resources directed towards preservation. It is the first step in the remuneration of the Amazônians through preservation. It is possible, thus, that we re-equalize the equation of the economic value of the standing forest, with regards to the cut down forest. It is an equation that makes Amazônia poor and threatens the world; to change it is a priority for all.

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