Monday, March 23, 2015

Brazil’s Deforestation Rates Are on the Rise Again

Members of Brazil's environmental police force IBAMA and the Para state police inspect logs discovered during "Operation Labareda," a raid against illegal logging, near Novo Progresso in the Amazon rain forest, August 18, 2012. After years of gains against destruction of the Amazon rainforest, Brazil appears to be suffering from an increase in deforestation as farmers, loggers, miners and builders move into previously untouched woodland, according to data compiled by the government and independent researchers. (Credit: Nelson Feitosa/Ibama/Reuters) Click to Enlarge.
In a world hungry for environmental success stories, Brazil has been the closest thing we have to a golden child.  The nation, Latin America’s largest economy, has been growing at an impressive clip, weathering the global financial crisis while cutting deforestation rates in the Amazon to historic lows.  Citing its success in protecting the earth’s largest rain forest, President Dilma Rousseff boasted that Brazil is “one of the most advanced countries” for sustainable development, on World Environment Day last June.

But it is too soon to declare victory in the Amazon.  Corruption, lawlessness and massive land fraud are now threatening those gains, and an aggressive new development push in the region may soon open remote areas of the forest to being cut.

Between 2005 and 2010, Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions plunged by 39 percent, declining faster than in any other country.  Brazil accomplished this by slashing its deforestation rate by more than three-quarters, mostly in the Amazon basin. (Burning forests to clear them is the second biggest source of greenhouse gases after the combustion of fossil fuels, accounting for 30 percent of the carbon dioxide produced by human activities, according to one U.N. study.)

But lately, the trend has reversed.  After increasing slightly in 2013, the pace of deforestation has more than doubled in the past six months, according to an analysis of photographs from Brazil’s SAD monitoring system, which analyzes NASA satellite imagery and provides monthly updates on the state of the forest.  Most of the recent clearing is to create cattle pasture in the “frontier states” of Para and Mato Grosso in the eastern and southern Amazon, respectively.  “I don’t like to look at the Amazon forest as something that could be gone in 30 or 40 years,” says Rita Mesquita, a senior researcher with Brazil’s National Institute for Research in the Amazon (INPA).  “But that may be where we are headed if we don’t change course."

Read more at Brazil’s Deforestation Rates Are on the Rise Again

1 comment:

  1. ALL TRUE. Living in Brasil for the last six-plus years I am closely following this process with my heart in my throat. Last elections brought us no one who could help reverse this calamity...The re-elected president is doing NOTHING to point the Amazon forest into a better direction. The country is on the verge of a total colapse. I am worried about where this is all heading.