Antoine Lorgnier - Photographs

Brazil, the rubber at the rescue of the Amazon forest

Isolated on the border of Bolivia and Peru, Acre is one of the smallest states in the Brazilian Amazon, with 153,000 km² for 750,000 inhabitants. Despite rapid deforestation in the past 20 years, 88% of the Acre is still covered by mostly intact forests, rich in exceptional biodiversity.

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The State of Acre is today the only one in Brazil and in the whole Amazon that implements a policy of “sustainable development” based on a respectful use of natural resources. The small town of Xapuri, where Chico Mendes was assassinated, has become the window of the “government of the forest”. Nearby, in one of the “extractivist reserves”, the syringueros protect the forest while exploiting it in a gentle way. The government has relaunched the rubber harvest there by finding new markets: 100% natural tires manufactured by Pirelli, “vegetable leather”, and local factory of natural comdoms. This new rubber “boom” has enabled over a thousand families of collectors to return to live in the forest. A forest fire program has also been put in place to monitor fires caused by farmers and ranchers. Timber cutting is also subject to numerous controls and the government is now encouraging certified sawmills. Finally, local tribes are recovering their ancestral lands. Their first mission: to replant trees.

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