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The county where the de Olveiras work has become the nation’s leader in private reserves, with 22. The landowner voluntarily grants the legal protection, but once a plot gets the designation, it’s binding: The forest can never be cut down, even if the ground under it is sold.
"I used to think this was a funny idea, planting trees," said de Oliveira, through a wide, gummy grin from which most teeth were missing. "I used to wonder, why not plant food? What good is this to anyone? Now I see it’s good for the monkeys, and good for everyone."
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