General Motors announces protection of most endangered Brazilian rainforest

The world’s largest car manufacturer, General Motors, has announced a donation of $10 million to conservation and reforestation projects in the Mata Atlantica forest, which has been reduced to 7% of its original size.

The forest, which once stretched along many hundreds of kilometres of Brazil’s Atlantic coast from south to north, has been devastated by logging and housing and industrial development. It is described by environmentalists as one of the world’s richest areas of biodiversity, with more species in a small area than the more famous Amazon rainforest. The money, which is the largest donation by industry to pay for environmental improvements, will be used to buy 30,000 acres of land land and consolidate an existing reserve in the southern state of Paraná. The area is home to 171 of the Mata Atlantica’s 202 endangered animal species.

General Motors says that the other aim of the project is as payback for environmental damage, with the forest offsetting emissions through carbon dioxide, although the effectiveness of carbon sinks has been placed in doubt (see story in this week’s ‘North America’ section).

Dennis Minano, General Motors’ Vice President and Chief Environmental Officer said that the company was “proud to participate in the restoration and preservation of this important part of Brazil’s natural heritage.”

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