For years, Valdomiro Facchi has made a living ranching on land carved from the Amazon rainforest. He's a small player in one of the world's biggest environmental disasters. But now that his cattle have trampled the pastures to dust - and new laws prevent him from clearing fresh land - he has to find new income.
"I want to diversify," said the 68-year old rancher, outlining plans to plant cocoa trees on his 300 hectare plot in Brazil's Para State. "I want to have the cocoa income when profit from cattle ranching fails." Facchi illustrates a trend that is turning damaged parts of the Amazon basin green again and creating an usual alliance between the agriculture industry and conservationists. Brazil's cattle ranchers are planting cocoa on their used-up pasture, with financial support from international environmental groups. That's a big change. For decades, ranchers have been the engine of clear-cutting in the Amazon rainforest that has rendered an area nearly the size of Spain treeless. "Besides being a means of avoiding deforestation, cocoa plantations favor the local, regional and national economy," the international environmental group The Nature Conservancy said on its website.