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Rainforest: use it or lose it

Years ago, “save the rainforest” was a slogan that entrenched the man-versus-nature mindset. Today, conservationists increasingly understand that preserving the rainforests must go hand in hand with promoting the rural livelihoods of the people who live there.

One organization that is building these bridges is Iracambi, an education, advocacy and research center in Brazil. Iracambi’s President and Executive Director Binka Le Breton visited Portland State yesterday to share the challenges and advances in Brazil’s effort to account for the incredible natural value the rainforest provides to their nation.

The value of the rainforest includes vast freshwater resources from the Amazon River, world-leading species diversity that includes new medicinal discoveries every year, and fertile land that rivals the United States as a global “bread basket.” The list goes on.

“Brazilians are waking up and saying ‘this belongs to us,’” Le Breton said.

Iracambi operates a 2,000 hectare sustainable forest farm to test and demonstrate how agriculture can coexist with a healthy rainforest and allow for regrowth where devastating deforestation has occurred.

“The forests will grow back if you give them half a chance.”

In June, all eyes will be on Brazil for Rio + 20—the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development—in Rio de Janeiro.

“This conference can be a game changer, and it’s up to us to make sure it is.”