Brazil Makes Great Strides in Protecting Rainforest

     Brazil deserves praise and thanks from all of us for its recent, extraordinarily effective efforts to protect the Amazon rainforest. 

     For many years, increasing destruction of vast swaths of the Brazilian rainforest contributed significantly to planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions and to a diminution of the world’s most biologically diverse region.

     But things have changed.  Between August 2008 and July 2009, Brazil slowed the rainforest deforestation rate by 45% over the previous 12-month period.  And between August 2009 and July 2010, the deforestation rate fell another 14% below that of the previous year.  These dramatic reductions will help Brazil to meet its goal of reducing deforestation by 80% by 2020.  In fact, says Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, conservation efforts are going so well that he expects his country to meet that goal by 2016, four years ahead of schedule.  If Brazil can meet its deforestation reduction goals, the country will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by almost 25%, according to a government statement. 

     Once the world’s biggest source of deforestation-caused greenhouse emissions, Brazil now leads the world in reducing deforestation. 

     And how has Brazil managed to curb deforestation so dramatically?  The answer, according to Brazil’s Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira, lies with the Action Plan for Deforestation Control and Prevention in the Amazon.  Launched in 2004, the Action Plan includes policies to improve monitoring, strengthen enforcement, and encourage sustainable activities in the region.

     A key ingredient in Brazil’s approach has been the government’s near-real time deforestation detection system.  Relying on up-to-date satellite images, the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources, in conjunction with the Federal Police, have been able to set up precise and effective enforcement operations to halt illegal deforestation as it happens. 

     Other factors in Brazil’s success include the engagement of the citizenry and the private sector to support deforestation efforts.  And seven of the nine states in the Amazon region have developed their own action plans to fight deforestation at the local level. 

     ”Brazil has done more than any other country over the past five years to cut global warming emissions by dramatically reducing its deforestation,” says Doug Boucher, director of climate research and analysis at the Washington-based Union of Concerned Scientists.  “Destroying tropical forests is responsible for about 15 percent of global warming pollution,” he explains, “and Brazil had been the biggest source of deforestation pollution. Its reduction is a stunning turnaround.”

     Some of the credit for Brazil’s effectiveness should go to Norway.  Norway has agreed to give Brazil as much as $1 billion over five years if it reduced deforestation, Boucher explained.   “That funding has compensated farmers, ranchers and other Brazilians whose livelihoods depend on clearing trees,” says Boucher.  Norway’s contribution has amounted to about $100 a year for each of its citizens. By contrast, the amount of aid the United States has pledged to protect tropical forests amounts to only about $1 a year for each American, Boucher notes.–April Moore

5 Responses to “Brazil Makes Great Strides in Protecting Rainforest”

  1. Livvie Mellan Shapiro Says:

    It’s salve to our wounds to read something like this, April – thanks for sharing it. Liv

  2. Joan Brundage Says:

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful news! I wish our country would follow this example.

  3. Tanya Says:

    That is good news indeed! When we were traveling on the Amazon in Peru several years ago we were warned that the minute the river passes into Brazil, the devastation becomes apparent. I’m so heartened.

  4. Judy Muller Says:

    This is quite extraodinary, very impressive. And I have not seen any news coverage of this dramatic and successful effort. I think this should be front-page news. This is inspirational, shows us what is possible, gives me great hope.

  5. April Says:

    Judy reaises a good point. This great news is not getting much press coverage at all. I wonder why. It really is cause for celebration.

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