Carbon Watch

The Dollar Tree

"Brazil: The Money Tree" is a joint project of FRONTLINE/World and the Center for Investigative Reporting, in association with Mother Jones magazine.
Producer: Andrés Cediel, Co-producer: Daniela Broitman, Interactive Producer: Matthew Vree, Interactive Designer: Rebecca Gray

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Kurunegala, Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka
Good job I would like to learn more .In Sri lanka Dambulla Sam Popham Arboretum is the first man made natural regenerated forest. We Have done big job to protect our flora & fauna . More details about carbon later.

James Hall
rio de janeiro, Brasil

Get real guys, the only hope (only_hope) at stopping the deforestation is the carbon credit economy, ugly as it may seem. I say "Go green police." Deforestation is a real problem and it needs a real solution - n-o-w. I don't see anyone else stepping in to buy off the landowners. If you think there is another doable approach, start doing it.

Mike Senatore
Coopersburg, PA

Don't forget that the corporations are enabled by the Brazilian government. The Brazilian government is choosing to take money instead of protecting their indigenous tribes. Corporations and not alone in their guilt. Governments' greed is to blame as well!

Sao Paulo, Brazil

Preservation will be a reality only if it is directly proportional to earned money. On the other hand, the planet's resources are finite, and so are we.

Rebecca Sommer

Thanks for this video initiative, it is needed.

Guilherme Valladares
Salvador, Bahia - Brazil

I'm sorry but I don't think Mark Schapiro or any other non-native reporter would be able to see all sides of this issue - he certainly did not. Also, it's much easier to criticize than to do. TNC/SPVS might not have the perfect case to show, but they certainly had the courage to go out and actually do something while most just talked or wrote about the issues. I missed constructive criticism from Schapiro's report, all I saw on his report was "yellow journalism". I also missed mention to the fact that Brazil is on the way to establishing an unprecedented model for development where rural communities can still be "rural" while the forests can remain standing - I'm sure that raises a lot of envy from others...

adam lucas
dar es salaam, tanzania

I wish the whole world could have been like these guys in Brazil. The world could have been a better place, but we still do have a chance to follow their footsteps.


Paris, France
I used to worry about deforestation like the rest of you but then I looked at the real overall picture data. Here it is, courtesy of NASA:

Despite what man has been doing, nature not only recovered but the world has been greening - as you'd expect in a warming world. Overall, business as usual is net reforestation, not deforestation. I've tried to engage Stiglitz's group to incorporate this but they didn't respond. All theses scary deforestation scenarios are apparently based on models which are in turn based on anecdotes from looking at the worst affected zones. The real satellite data is continually ignored, except by a few rainforest experts - who are then usually derided. Why? You tell me...

But what you are seeing is classic unintended consequences of ill-planned righteous rule-making and it happens all the time in ecology. People forget to step back and do real analysis on real data - they prefer to stick to the plan through thick and thin. This no-feedback, prohibition culture then becomes like Stalin's 5-year plans, or World Bank and Washington Consensus dictums - with similar disastrous consequences.

salvador, bahia
O que vem acontecendo com o Brasil, ja vem do descobrimento, mas agora afeta ao planeta todo, e acredito que se nos unirmos, conseguiremos salvar as nossas florestas, coisa que os nossos governantes, estao apenas fazendo apologia, um exemplo do que estou falando, e um caso para uma investigacao mais profunda e a construcao da hidroeletrica de BELLO MONTE, um crime ambiental, que vai disimar o povo do Xingu.

Joanne Ott
Bloomington, MN

What is wrong with this picture? Three large U.S. based companies buy rights to forests on the Atlantic coast in Brazil to offset their carbon emissions. Maybe we should start selling rights to them for Yosemite and Yellowstone park forests! That ought to wake our senses up!


italy, uk
For interesting and up to date work on REDD and the impact on indigenous people in Brazil and globally see

Seattle, WA

I have two opposing reactions to this story. My first is what I learned from Jared Diamond's "Collapse," which is that all people, in whatever culture, are still people and may over-consume resources and destroy the earth no matter what society they are from.

On the other hand and much more strongly, I react by saying that I am under the impression that the world's forests are threatened not as much by the guy with the chain saw as the guy with the fleet of bulldozers. Shouldn't the forca verde be pointing their guns at them? To really save these forests and keep that carbon out of the atmosphere, let's look at how the US and/or Brazil and/or the rest of the world destroy forests to mass produce palm oil for our cookies, sugar cane for our ethanol, soy beans for our cows for cheap hamburgers, and timber for a lot of stuff we may not need. Let that guy take a tree to fix his leaky roof.

Antonina, PR
SPVS assassina!

Irvine, CA

GM should leave Indians alone and start making good vehicles with less pollutants. If GM or Chevron wants to reduce carbon in the atmosphere, they should stop lobbying the US Congress against agreeing to International climate agreements.

This is just all smoke. It means nothing. $18 million dollars? That is less than one month damage that GM vehicles do to California alone.

The multi-national corporations that are continuously clearing the Amazon to plant soy, corn and raise millions of animals for money, who is preventing them from clearing more land? Who is making them replant the millions of acres they already damaged?

This carbon market is nothing but a way to deceive the public. Stop the pollution period.

The climate will not improve by spewing tons of pollutants every day in the air, and turn around depriving ordinary forest people their right to life. It is wrong, and it should be illegal, after all, they own no industries and they don't drive cars. If Americans who buy GM poorly made vehicles, will drive just 10% less, the sky will clear. Or may be Americans should just try to live in the forest like the Indians just for a day.

Live the Indians alone. They have protected these forests for thousands of years. On the other hand, the so-called civilized people have destroyed the world in less than 100 years. Who are you fooling?

Washington, DC, USA

To clarify: I am in no way dismissing the potential (or current and real) social impacts of REDD. If you read my comment fully, you will see that I make a point to stress the importance of paying attention to such impacts. I fully agree with your argument that social impacts are important.In fact, if you are interested, please do look at the Bolsa Floresta program I mentioned. The website is here:

It gives me some hope -- however small -- that indigenous people and other forest dwellers can gain from avoided deforestation programs. I think that programs like this should be the focus of more documentaries, frankly.

FRONTLINE/World's editors respond:
A viewer from Paramibo, Suriname wrote in asking about clarification of the term REDD. It stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation.

The United Nations describes REDD as "an effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development."or, as Mark Schapiro describes in his Mother Jones article, it's a way to pay people to not cut down trees.

Leif Brottem
Madison, WI

The anonymous comment from Washington DC reflects a common standpoint in the Northern conservation community that is dismissive of the social impacts of its work. The reality is that there are real risks that avoided deforestation (REDD) programs become another chapter in a long history of coercive and often violent conservation efforts. Avoided deforestation's potential to address two major global challenges (climate change and biodiversity loss) is undeniable. However, over reliance on surveillance and punishment will, in many instances, continue to undermine local support and weaken long-term prospects for forest conservation and climate change mitigation.

Tree Hugger
Lima, Peru

Hate to break the happy streak but please take a look at Brazil in google maps. The whole place is being cut down by humans. In this case, Brazilian Farmers who for the last 100 years have been systematically killing (with the help of the Brazil Govt) the "real" indigenous natives (so-called "indians") who actually live in the area without cutting down trees. I haven't been to that part of Brazil, but I can tell you from my experience in the Peruvian Jungle that so called "farmers" make their money not from agriculture but from illegal cutting of trees and illegal mining.

I am not defending GM but we shouldn't be so naive about the Brazilian farmers either. They do have a lower impact lifestyle than Americans, but so does 80% of the world. These people aren't indigenous, they are "colonos" (the term giving by indigenous indians to land invaders which means "colonizers").

There has not been any enforcement in the Amazon to protect the jungle. The Green Police might not be ideal, but it is the beginning. This is the first time I have heard where the law protecting the forest has ever been enforced. If you saw a farmer in upstate New York cut down two or three trees for his "house" in the Catskills, would you smile and say 'Go right ahead' or would you call the park rangers?

FRONTLINE/World's editors respond:
The situation in the Atlantic Forest is much different than that of the Amazon. The farmers you see in our piece are not settlers, or colonos, but members of a distinct cultural group known as caicaras.These people, who are defined by their coastal subsistence lifestyle, live in the states of Parana and Sao Paolo, and are descendants of indigenous people, Portuguese settlers, and enslaved Africans who escaped bondage. While the vast majority of the Atlantic Forest has been destroyed (seventy percent of Brazil's population lives within its original boundaries), the small pockets of preserved forests have been inhabited continuously by the caicaras since the 16th century. The indigenous Guarani that we spoke with, in fact, remarked that the caicara people lived like they do, caring for the land and taking only what they need.

What remains true in this region is that those mainly responsible for the degradation of the land, sea and forest are outsiders. Buffalo ranching, which was encouraged by the government, attracted investment from outside of the community and has devastated the environment. Likewise, the native palm tree -- the jucara -- is endangered not because of local use of the plant, but because of large-scale black marketeers who sell the heart of palm for consumption around the country. Finally, the main threat to the biodiversity of marine life is not from subsistence fishing, but from sports fishermen who come from the state capital looking for a prize catch.

When we spoke with The Green Police they assured us that their main focus was on the criminal activities associated with commercial poaching, and that subsistence fishermen and farmers were guaranteed certain rights which allowed them to maintain their lifestyle. However, the locals we spoke with told a different story, and felt that they were being targeted and harassed for living as they had for centuries.


Jay Smith
New York, New York

While, as an environmentalist for almost 40 years, I welcome the efforts being made to preserve forests and wildlife habitats, I'm dubious about carbon trading schemes that industrialized nations are forging to continue polluting the earth while displacing indigenous people from their native lands.

Once again, poor people of the world who live simple, marginalized existences are exploited by powerful corporations and countries who continue to pollute and destroy at a scale much greater than indigenous people--who in their way of life use natural resources more efficiently an sustainably than big industrial corporations.

The need is to preserve forests and wildlife habits for their own sake, not for the sake of indulging corporate avarice and waste with "carbon credits", allowing the simple use of the forest by people who have always lived there sustainably.

What needs to change is the behavior of people in industrialized societies and their corporations that massively destroy and consume the world's resources. Sadly, I don't think we shall do it before it's too late. Such carbon schemes only delay the real necessary behavioral changes of conservation needed but that aren't being made in countries like the United States. We know that a quarter of the energy used in the US could be easily saved by simple conservation behavior like turning off lights and machines, like computers, when not in use, which would reduce carbon emissions from central power plants. But we don't do it. We'd rather induce others to practice "preservation" while we cannot practice simple conservation.

Preserve the forests and the people who live in them by leaving them alone, and police the corporate industries laying waste the world.

Wilfred Mitchell
Akron, OH

I have to say I felt bad for the gentleman who was put in jail for trying to build a house with 2 or 3 trees from his land. It is important to see the negative effect the green police are having on some of the people who live in these areas.

Julie Steinbach
Mission, USA

It's ridiculous that someone else be forced to compensate for our actions. Because we pollute, so they have to have pollute less; they have to consume less; they have to make sacrifices; they have do the things that we don't want to do.

Tom Fielding
Boston, Ma

Great work on an important issue. Thank you! I plan on showing this to my high school students.

Adriana Vale
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

This is a beautiful documentary that inform us about very important issues that are otherwise, are still very obscure in the media.Thank you for PBS to let us know that despite all the greed leading to global warming, there is something being done to revert this every growing problem. Nice to see US companies investing on Brazil's Atlantic forest to preserve nature. Breathtaking images! Thank you

Ericka Omena
San Rafael, CA/EUA

The indigenous are the true environmentalists. The people from the Green Police and the so-called "preservation NGOs" should take some time to learn with the indigenous first. We, the people, are animals too, and part of the ecosystem. Permaculture is the answer.

German Cediel
Bogota, Colombia

Congratulations! We need to know more about ways to save the planet. SPVS needs to find a balance between preservation and the survival of a few families that live in the forest. To cut two or three trees to build a house should not be considered a crime. The families that want to stay need the support of SPVS. Like someone said in your documentary, humans are part of the ecosystem, and need to learn how to be a good partner. I think the inhabitants of the rain forest need more support if they are willing to co-exist with the forest. Balance! No extremes.

Keep up the good work, we need more documentaries like this to raise the awareness about the environment.

Sarah Terry-Cobo
Oakland, CA

Wow, what a wonderful piece of such a complex story! I can't wait to see (and report) on the other pieces of carbon legislation that not only affect the way U.S. companies operate, but also truly have a global impact on people's lives.

Great reporting and production, as always from the Frontline/World crew and Mark. Keep up the outstanding work!

Berkeley, CA
Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive...Mother Nature.


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