New project threatens tribe

 Aid agency CAFOD fears for the survival of the Deni Indians in the Amazon after a company bought a stretch of jungle for logging last week. We cannot name the company for legal reasons. The Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI) who are CAFOD partners warn that, if the planned deforestation takes place, the environmental damage could threaten the very existence of the tribe. Programme officer for Brazil Jan Smith said: "The Deni are in a very vulnerable position. They live off the forest and, if the ecological balance is upset, this could have a devastating effect on the Deni way of life." Jan said the Amazon region is home to 60 per cent of Brazil's Indians, but is also rich in resources: "It is the exploitation of these resources by land speculators, forestry companies and mineral and land prospectors that threaten not only the delicate ecological balance of the rainforest but also the indigenous groups that live there." Environmental group Greenpeace says that this issue is particularly relevant to the UK, Britain being a major customer of timber from countries where the logging of ancient forests is currently the norm. Every month, up to 1,400 tons of wood from the Amazon is imported to the UK. Prime Minister Tony Blair has promised that the UK will tackle illegal logging domestically and will encourage other major industrial countries to do the same. Church groups working in Brazil have applauded this move and are urging the UK government to take a lead in international discussions on finding alternatives to the wholesale destruction of ancient forests for timber. Nearly 80 per cent of the world's ancient forest has already been destroyed. The remainder is disappearing at the rate of ten million hectares every year.

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