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WWF Helps Set Up Amazon Trust Fund; Goal is Protection of Area Bigger than US Parks System Over Next 10 Years

BRASILIA, Brazil -- World Wildlife Fund announced the creation Thursday of a permanent, multi-million dollar endowment to fund conservation efforts in the Brazilian Amazon in partnership with the World Bank, the Global Environment Facility and the government of Brazil.

In a ceremony at the presidential palace in Brasilia, WWF officials presented President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva with a check for $500,000 in seed money for the Amazon Region Protected Areas (ARPA) trust fund. The GEF contributed a matching $500,000 grant for the fund's initial capitalization.

The funds are in addition to some $80 million already raised by WWF and its partners to finance a 10-year plan to create a network of protected areas in the Brazilian Amazon one and a half times larger than the entire U.S. National Parks system.

"With the establishment of the ARPA trust fund, we have reached an important milestone in our efforts to reverse the tide of deforestation and secure permanent protection for the Amazon," said Guillermo Castilleja, WWF vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean. "While we still have a long way to go, ARPA is no longer a dream. It's a reality in the making."

When fully capitalized at $240 million, the ARPA trust fund will be used to maintain and ensure continued protection of a 190,000 square-mile network of national parks and sustainable use reserves spanning an area larger than the state of California.

Similar to successful trusts that WWF has set up around the world, in places like Bhutan, Mexico and the Philippines, the endowment fund will "help guarantee that the parks are protected in fact, not just in name," added Matt Perl, WWF director for Amazon protected areas.

Brazilian environmentalist Paulo Nogueira-Neto, a member of the board of WWF-Brazil, presented the WWF check to President Lula at a ceremony in the Planalto presidential palace. Other participants included Brazilian Environment Minister Marina Silva and Dr. Rosa Lemos de Sa, conservation director of WWF-Brazil.

One of the largest and most ambitious conservation projects ever undertaken, ARPA is a partnership between the Brazilian government, the World Bank, the GEF, World Wildlife Fund, the German Development Bank and the Brazilian Biodiversity Fund.

More than 20,000 square miles of new protected areas have already been established under ARPA, including the 15,000 square-mile Tumucumaque Mountains National Park. Other areas have been mapped and are undergoing scientific evaluation for inclusion in the ARPA network.

Editors' Note:
ARPA was conceived and implemented with support from the World Bank/WWF Alliance for Forest Conservation & Sustainable Use. For more information on the Alliance, visit the Forest Alliance Web site.