The rain-forests of the Amazon region have once again been set aflame by controversies. This time the fuse has been lit by the "Amazon Charter" - recently finalised by the Fernando Cardoso government. The charter proposes a road through the forests leading to the Pacific Ocean. This Pacific link is expected to be immensely beneficial to ranchers, farmers and turn-berers flourishing in western Amazon. They ship their cargo through the Atlantic. But environmentalists are convinced that this road could only lead to disaster. The routes under consideration run through a long stretch of untouched prserve. "When roads are built, land values shoot up and draw lots of people", says Philip Fearnside, a researcher. And the settlers slash or burn more forests to plant cattle pasture.

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