Hundreds form Human Banner in Peru to Draw Attention to Plight of the Amazon

Amo Amazonia Arts Festival in Lima Highlights Biological and Cultural Wealth and Diversity of Peruvian Amazon

Amo Amazonia

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Lima, Peru – Over 400 people spelled out "Amo Amazonia" ("I love the Amazon") across the Agua Dulce beach outside of Lima, Peru on Sunday as part of the inauguration of a ten-day, first-ever cultural and arts festival also titled Amo Amazonia.

The Peruvian Amazon encompasses more than half of Peru's national territory and is the second largest rainforest in the world after the Brazilian Amazon. Yet more than half of the nation's population lives near the coast and nearly a third in the Lima metropolitan area.

"We wish that everyone in Lima could travel to the jungle and know it themselves, but since we can't transport 8 million people we've brought a piece of the jungle to Lima." Said Enrique Basurto Carvo, co-ordinator of Amo Amazonía.

Almost twenty percent of the Amazon wilderness area has been deforested over the past four decades and each year between 11,000 and 27,000 square kilometers of additional forest are destroyed. If development plans for the Amazon continue unchecked, scientists predict that the entire Amazon region – recognized as essential to climate stability – will be at the brink of permanent ecological collapse within the next ten to twenty years. This process would release massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, accelerating global climate change.

Amo Amazonia – the first festival of its kind in Peru – began on Thursday October 15, 2009 and will run until Sunday October 25. The festival includes dozens of film screenings, talks, art and photography exhibits, concerts, and cultural fairs taking place in more than fifty venues across Lima. Featured artists include: Los Mirlos, Bareto y La Mente.

John Quigley, an artist renowned for creating human banners in the Arctic and the heart of the Brazilian Amazon, traveled to Peru for the first time to work on the Amo Amazonia banner.

"The Peruvian Amazon is vital for the health of the global environment," Quigley said, "but it is also an exquisitely beautiful place, if more people knew this I think they would fall in love with it and do more to protect it."

Amo Amazonia is organized by Shinai with the collaboration of more than 70 institutions including student groups, cultural centers, non-profit organizations, city councils, companies and individuals.

Click here for more information and a full schedule of festival activities.

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