Paragominas, a Brazilian municipality roughly the size of New Jersey, was once the site of rapid deforestation, losing its forests faster than any other area of the Amazon. However, the Brazilian government in partnership with The Nature Conservancy has put a stop to illegal deforestation and turn Paragominas into a "Green City."

The Nature Conservancy has been working since 2009 to end illegal deforestation in the Amazon, and recent efforts by local government officials have managed to accomplish the task in Paragominas.

Prior to these changes, controlled fires burned down the Amazonian ecosystem and darkened the skies above Paragominas. Federal agents closed down almost 300 illegal saw mills and other operations in the region, which cost a number of Paragominas residents their jobs. Rather than trying to stop deforestation completely, local officials chose to use the region's development to their advantage.

Mayor Adnan Demachki helped to turn his town around by creating a wood industry instead of just burning down natural jungle resources. Demachki suggested planting trees for wood instead of taking trees from the jungle. He also implemented more effective, modern farming techniques like crop rotation that allow farmers to use less land while creating more products. Landowners were also legally deeded their land, and required to leave certain percentages of forest areas untouched.

Law enforcement improved in the region and people were given more ways to move forward in a legal manner so they no longer had to rely on illegal deforestation.

"Paragominas is an example of how to successfully overcome deforestation and begin the transition to an economy that conserves the forest," Mauro Pires, the head of Brazil's Environment Ministry's department that fights Amazon destruction, told the Associated Press. "They changed their stance and followed their leaders down an alternative path — one that coexists with the forest."</p> <p>Based on the positive results in Paragominas, the Green Municipalities project will aim to completely eradicate illegal deforestation in more than 77 different Amazonian municipalities by 2014, according to the Conservancy. Now that illegal deforestation has been halted, Paragominas will retain its natural habitat, making it a great Peruvian Amazon travel destination.

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