Thursday, March 08, 2007

Can Ecology and Commerce Coexist? 

Can Ecology and Commerce Coexist?: "Our small boat bobs along the unimaginably wide Amazon River, then heads up a fast-flowing tributary the colour of tea with cream, and finally turns onto a stream leading into the heart of the rainforest. Monkeys scamper in the trees above us as the motorboat chugs more and more slowly until the stream becomes too narrow to travel. This is where José Luiz de Oliveira and his 17-year-old son Alex live on a small farmstead alive with bird calls. Piglets frolic in the cool mud below their dock while ducks march in formation.

In many ways this boat ride feels like a trip into the past. The forest is largely untouched here except for the sunny clearing around the house (although we did spot an illegal lumber operation downriver). The de Oliveiras live as people have for centuries -- drawing their daily meals and livelihood from the land, the river and the livestock. It's an enchanting place if you can get used to the mosquitoes. Yet beauty and peace do not translate into prosperity. The tiny house has no electricity, no telephone, no fans, no screens in the windows.

The great debates about sustainable development being waged in government assemblies and at environmental institutes, corporate headquarters and street protests around the world are really about this place. Is it possible to bring the de Oliveiras some of the advantages of"

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