|31/03/2009 | Venezuela, Ecuador Protect More of Amazon, Study Says
Ecuador and Venezuela are the countries that have protected the largest portions of their Amazonian regions, while Peru has the smallest protected area, the O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper reported on Sunday, citing a new study.
Ecuador has protected 79.7 percent of its section of the rainforest, while Venezuela has conserved 71.5 percent of its part of the Amazon, according to a new study by the non-governmental Amazonian Geo-referenced Socioenvironmental Information Network, or Raisg.
Colombia has protected 56 percent of its Amazon forest, compared to the meager 39.6 percent conserved by Brazil, the country that holds 64.3 percent of the world’s largest rainforest.
The worst performer in this area, however, is Peru, which has protected only 34.9 percent of its Amazonian region, Raisg said.
Some 41.2 percent, on average, of the “lungs of the planet” is protected.
Nine countries have sections of the Amazon, which covers 7.8 million sq. kilometers (3.01 million sq. miles) and is home to 33 million people, within their borders.
Raisg’s estimates were based on protected and Indian lands, the areas that are generally in the best conservation state.
Ecuador is the country holding the largest percentage of Indian lands in the Amazon, with 65 percent, followed by Colombia, with 50.6 percent, Bolivia, with 25.7 percent, and Brazil, with 13 percent.
“In Ecuador, the process of officially recognizing Indian territories in Amazonia is less bureaucratic than in Brazil. The region is practically occupied by indigenous people,” anthropologist Beto Ricardo, one of the Raisg study’s authors, told O Estado de Sao Paulo.
In other countries, such as Venezuela, the process of setting boundaries for Indian lands is “more backward,” Ricardo said.
The Venezuelan government does not recognize the lands and simply classifies them as “areas of indigenous occupation,” including them within national parks, the anthropologist said.
As a result, there are no figures on Indian lands in Venezuela, leading to a reduced level of protection, Ricardo said.
Raisg plans to post a map on its Web site on Friday illustrating the study’s results.
Latin America Herald Tribune (Estados Unidos)
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