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Rain Forests: Proving Their Worth.

This video puts forth a bold and very testable hypothesis: Tropical rainforests can make a greater economic contribution to owners and users who extract products without cutting trees than they can provide to owners who sell timber or graze cattle on cleared land.

Cultural Survival, a group that provides much of the commentary, has often romaticized native peoples in the manner of Rousseau's noble innocentand natural sage. Most of the non-loggers in this video are immigrants, not natives. That fact or perhaps a good script writer has helped this video shed the rose-colored glasses that Cultural Survival usually employs.

For a short video, "Proving Their Worth" is a long and interesting catalog of the valuable substances a rainforest can produce and keep producing if it is not cut. We see Brazilians tapping rubber, making pharmaceuticals, shampoos, lubricants, decongestants, massage oils, wicker furniture, sunscreen lotions, bread, and cereals in addition to harvesting exotic and familiar nut and fruit crops.

A Ford Foundation consultant tells us that on Combu Island near the mouth of the Amazon, people who harvest 10 hectares (approximately 25 acres) of palm nuts can earn $4,000 a year, a large sum for any worker in Brazil. An officer of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream chain tells us he expects tropical food products to be a $1 billion business by the year 2000. We are shown a pickers cooperative in which the members are learning how to process what they pick and do their own marketing. They earn 20 times more than when they sold unprocessed nuts to middle men.

The video never proves its hypthesis, but it earns the proponents of nondestructive extraction a lot of credibility. And it should help to earn their hypothesis a more urgent and unbiased test.
COPYRIGHT 1991 American Forests
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Kaufman, Wallace
Publication:American Forests
Article Type:Video Recording Review
Date:Nov 1, 1991
Previous Article:Confessions of an Eco-Warrior.
Next Article:Public Lands, Public Heritage: The National Forest Idea.

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