Wednesday, November 25, 2009

GM's Money Trees

GM's Money Trees
In Brazil, people with some of the world's smallest carbon footprints are being displaced—so their forests can become offsets for SUVs.
By Mark Schapiro
November/December 2009 Issue Link to full article below

I am standing in the shadow of General Motors' $1 tree. It's a native guaricica, with pale white bark and a spreading crown that looms about 40 feet above my head. Hanging from its trunk is a small plaque that identifies it as tree No. 129. I've come here, to the verdant chaos of Brazil's Atlantic forest, to understand the far-reaching and politically explosive controversies taking shape in diplomatic corridors thousands of miles away over the fate of trees like this one.

No. 129 stands in the heart of the Cachoeira reserve in the state of Paraná—one of the last slivers of a forest that once blanketed much of the country's southeastern coast. Just 7 percent of the Atlantic forest remains, but it is still one of the Earth's richest centers of biodiversity, home to a wealth of plants and creatures comparable to the Amazon's. On the way here, our group—led by Ricardo Miranda de Britez and his team of forestry experts from the Brazilian conservation group Society for Wildlife Research and Environmental Education (SPVS)—walked past clusters of yellow-and-white orchids, stepped over the footprints of an ocelot, kept an eye out for the endangered golden lion tamarin, and were bitten by, it seems, every one of the thousands of species of insects native to the area.

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