Forest conservation number one priority for residents of the Amazon, WWF survey shows | WWF

Forest conservation number one priority for residents of the Amazon, WWF survey shows

Posted on
20 March 2001
Brasilia, Brazil - On the eve of World Forest Day, the results of a survey by WWF-Brazil and ISER (a Rio de Janeiro-based independent research institute), released today in Brasilia, show that conservation of the forests is number one priority for the residents of the Amazon.

When asked to rank the priorities for the Amazon Region, 46 per-cent of the people who participated in the poll answered that sustainable use of natural resources, such as forest preservation and ecotourism, is the top priority.

More than half of those interviewed (59 per-cent) don't want to see an increase in pollution, even if this is associated with a rise in employment, and 69 per-cent do not consider progress more important than nature conservation.

In addition, 64 per-cent of the poll participants said they are aware of the need to control the use of natural resources, and 69 per-cent think that Brazil can afford to address ecological problems.

"The results of this survey show that an increasing part of the population wants to develop the Amazon region without destroying nature", said Dr. Garo Batmanian, WWF-Brazil's CEO.

A vast majority of the residents of the Amazon (73 per-cent) have become aware of the degradation of their environment. Deforestation and forest fires were listed as the main problem in the Amazon Region. When talking about local problems, people mentioned the lack of sanitation, services and urban infrastructure.

The timber industry appears to be the villain in the present development model: 57 per-cent of the people said timber extraction is not necessary to develop the Amazon Region, and less than 5% listed the support to the timber industry as a priority.

Generally, the interviewees consider the government responsible for solving the region's environmental and development issues, and half of them expect the city governments to act.

At the same time, the federal government ranks third (14 per-cent), after both the non-governmental organizations and the Army (38%) when the question is about who cares the most for the Amazon Region.

Three quarters of the population of the Amazon like environmental organizations, and WWF has a good image. However, IBAMA - the Brazilian official agency for the environment - is the only well-known environmental organization in the region.

According to the poll, the majority of the residents of the Amazon are still in favor of activities that have a high environmental impact, such as new roads and waterways, agriculture development and mining. However, the survey also shows that they expect the government to carefully plan infrastructure development and economic expansion, so that it is compatible with nature conservation.

Television is the main information media in the Amazon Region - 77 per-cent of the people said they watch the TV News - followed by print media and radio. Internet was mentioned by less than 3 per-cent of the interviewees.

The survey took place from August 22 to October 1st, 2000, and a total of 2049 people were interviewed in both urban and rural areas of three states of the Brazilian Amazon Region (Acre, Pará and Rondonia). The sample was representative of the entire population, based on the official census data.

These preliminary results are part of the data of a more comprehensive research. The complete and final results will be published in May.

For further information:

Regina Vasquez, WWF-Brazil: tel. +55-61-364-7483; e-mail: regina@wwf.org.br