Requiem for Rain Forests?

Archive Report

Clearing the Forests

About 28 Million Acres Destroyed Annually

In The Heart of the Amazon rain forest, the Brazilian government bulldozes a new road, No. 429. Thousands of landless peasants follow its progress, swarming over the land that flanks the unpaved strip. Pioneers in quest of a dream, they hack and burn the forest to make way for crops. Lured by government land agency promises of a better life, Renato and his wife, Maria, claim a 15-acre homestead. They clear the trees in six months and plant 2,200 coffee seedlings, corn, pumpkin and melons. “I won't leave here,” says Renato, a former sharecropper, as he anticipates his first harvest. “Here one works for one's self. Plant today, eat tomorrow.” But after only a year, they give ...

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