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Saving The Amazon Will Take More Than Stopping Loggers


Ending deforestation is not enough to save the Amazon. That's the finding of a new Brazilian report. It calls for measures to reclaim vast deforested tracts. And it warns that failure to do so will lead to more consequences, such as severe drought- and that at a time when Brazil's biggest city, Sao Paulo, is already parched. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro tells us more.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: For years, governments in Latin America have been celebrated for reducing deforestation in the Amazon. In Brazil alone, from 2005 to 2012, it fell some 70 percent. But the new report compiled by the National Institute for Research in the Amazon - a government supported body here - shows that slowing deforestation is no longer enough, if it ever was, and neither is the stopping deforestation completely, if that were even possible. In key areas of the Amazon, deforestation actually has to be reversed, or there will be catastrophic consequences.

CLAUDIO MARETTI: The moisture comes from the ocean through the states of Maranhao and Para. If we keep deforesting in those states, we're going to probably interrupt that moisture flow. And therefore, we needed to replant. We need to recover the forest in those areas, so that we can have the Amazon functioning.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Claudio Maretti is with the World Wildlife Fund's Amazon initiative. He says, the Amazon basin is the water pump for the whole region.

MARETTI: You know, it's the forest interacting with the atmosphere that makes the whole system working.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The report is based on over 200 studies on the Amazon, which were collated. And they show a clear trend of diminishing rainfall and climatic disruption that is due to man's impact on the environment there. Maretti says, governments must act now. But the reality is that deforestation is accelerating in the region. Last year in Brazil, it jumped over 20 percent.

MARETTI: The Amazon is the most important region on Earth. We are going to be the first to suffer, so we're not doing that for Europe, for U.S. We are going to suffer. Sao Paulo is suffering right now because of deforestation in the Amazon. That's what we are saying.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR News, Sao Paulo. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Lulu Garcia-Navarro is the host of Weekend Edition Sunday and one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. She is infamous in the IT department of NPR for losing laptops to bullets, hurricanes, and bomb blasts.
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