Thursday, April 10, 2008

Condoms will help to conserve trees in the Brazilian Rain Forest

Good news from Brazil - the Brazilian government inaugurated a condom factory that will help both poor Brazilian rubber tappers to make a living and to preserve the Amazon rain forest. Sounds like a win-win deal to me!

And it's getting even better - Associated Press reported (and thanks to Grist for the update) that "the plant in the northwestern town of Xapuri will produce 100 million condoms a year, which the government will distribute for free as part of its massive anti-AIDS program, Brazil's Health Ministry said in a statement."

According to the article, the latex for the condoms will be drawn from towering jungle trees in the sprawling Chico Mendes forest reserve by small time rubber tappers who protect their trees and thus the rain forest to ensure their livelihood.

The idea is very simple - to make it more worthwhile to conserve the trees than to cut them down by making the live trees a source of income. It is also very helpful that the income will be generated by locals (according to the Health Ministry the factory will benefit at least 500 families of rubber tappers and will provide about 150 jobs for the town of 15,000), who have now better incentive to protect the trees.

I believe that this step is connected to the Brazilian government's new measures to protect the Amazon rain forest, following the data on growing deforestation, which I reported on three months ago. In any case, I'm very happy to hear about this news and I hope to see more initiatives like this that will help both the rain forest and the local communities.