Brazil must target smallholders to curb rising deforestation

October 21, 2014

Anastasia Moloney – The Guardian, 10/20/2014

Farmers with smallholdings are not responsible for most of the destruction of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, but their contribution to deforestation is rising and must be addressed if the country is to hold on to recent gains, according to an environmental research group.

Government efforts led to a 77% fall in deforestation in the Amazon between 2004 and 2011, but progress has slowed and deforestation is rising, the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) said in a report.

The report said that between 2004 and 2011, landowners with more than 500 hectares (1,235 acres) of property were responsible for about 48% of the deforestation. Areas owned by smallholders accounted for 12% of the forests destroyed during the same period. However, since 2005, the contribution to annual deforestation by the largest landowners has fallen by 63%, while that of smallholders has increased by 69%, the report said.

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Brazil Seen Running Rationing Risk Without Conservation

October 17, 2014

Anna Edgerton – Bloomberg, 10/16/2014

Brazil is running a “very big risk” by not doing more to conserve power use during a drought, according to Jose Jorge, Brazil’s energy minister in 2001, the last time the country had to ration electricity.

The opposition-aligned official and member of Brazil’s audit court said in an interview yesterday government measures to contain power prices have also restricted investment in the industry, exacerbating the effect of the drought.

Reservoirs in Brazil’s southeast, home to most of the country’s hydro-power plants, are at 22.4 percent capacity with high temperatures and low rainfall so far in October. The last time Brazil had to ration energy, when Jorge was minister, reservoirs were 21.3 percent full in October. With low dam levels restricting hydroelectric generation, distributors have had to rely on more expensive thermal plants.

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Activists use GPS to track illegal loggers in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest

October 15, 2014

Damian Carrington – The Guardian, 10/14/2014

Covert GPS surveillance of timber trucks by Amazon campaigners has revealed how loggers are defeating attempts to halt deforestation in the world’s greatest rainforest. Raids by law enforcement officers are expected early on Wednesday morning, acting on the evidence handed to them by Greenpeace Brazil.

The activists went undercover in the remote and dangerous state of Pará to secretly place GPS tracking devices on trucks suspected of illegal logging, the first time the tactic has been used. It revealed 200-mile-long journeys deep into protected regions of rainforest to collect logs and return journeys under the cover of night to sawmills in the Amazon port of Santarém, from where timber is exported to Europe, the US, China, and Japan. Satellite and aerial images were also collected and analysed during the hi-tech operation.

Violence has frequently accompanied attempts to expose illegal logging but the leader of the Greenpeace operation told the Guardian he had been determined to succeed.

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An environmentalist’s calculated push toward Brazil’s presidency

October 1, 2014

Paulo Prada – Reuters, 10/1/2014

In March 2003, three months into her tenure as Brazil’s environment minister, Marina Silva gathered a half-dozen aides at the modernist ministry building in Brasilia, the capital.

She told them the new government of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was about to embark on a pharaonic infrastructure project for Brazil’s arid Northeast.

The project, a still-ongoing effort to reroute water from one of Brazil’s biggest rivers, had previously been opposed by environmentalists, including Silva herself. Rather than explain how she would thwart the plan, however, the former activist said she would work to make it as sustainable as possible.

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Brazil to Triple Its Marine Protected Area with World Bank’s Help

September 29, 2014

Brazzil, 9/28/2014

A Brazilian pioneer initiative will more than triple the ocean area under environmental protection in Brazil, from 5.5 million hectares to over 17.5 million, an area larger than Greece.

Approved by the World Bank Board of Directors, the US$ 18.2 million Marine Protected Areas Project will benefit the 43 million people who live in Brazil’s 514 thousand km² coast area.

Financed by the Global Environmental Fund (GEF), the project will bring far-reaching social and economic benefits, protecting the capacity of coastal ecosystems to produce food, maintain good water quality, and increasing their resilience to and recovery from degradation.

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Brazil’s Biggest City Is Running Dry

September 25, 2014

Mac Margolis – Bloomberg, 09/24/2014

God, the natives like to say, is Brazilian. So with the country weathering its worst drought in decades, it’s no surprise that officials in the worst-hit regions are pleading force majeure. Geraldo Alckmin, governor of water-stressed Sao Paulo, chalked up the emptying reservoirs to “exceptional” and “unimaginable” drought.

But Saint Peter, the national patron saint of rain, gets a bum rap. The great Brazilian dry spell is as predictable as Sunday mass, and this year’s is no exception. Sao Paulo owes its skyline in large part to the hands of men and women who fled the parched backlands of the northeast to become bricklayers and steelworkers in the country’s biggest metropolis. One of them was Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who wet his whistle with politics and became a rebel union leader and then president.

Now the problem has migrated, too. Sao Paulo, the nation’s most prosperous state, is facing its worst dry snap in four generations. Last week, the water level in the region’s biggest reservoir, the Cantareira complex, dropped to just 8 percent. The state sanitation authority, Sabesp, is offering fat discounts to consumers who slash their yearly water use by at least 20 percent. Dozens of cities are already rationing water.

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Climate Change summit: Brazil refuses to sign UN’s pledge to slow deforestation

September 24, 2014

David Usborne – The Independent, 9/23/2014

The Brazilian delegation claimed measures to end illegal deforestation had been drafted behind closed doors at the United Nations without its participation.

The fit of pique gravely undermines the declaration, which was meant as a centre-piece of the one-day summit. The Amazon jungles, “the lungs of the planet”, absorb huge quantities of carbon dioxide, the main cause of global warming. Logging is the second biggest source of emissions.

Ending deforestation is pivotal to dealing with climate change, the British Development Secretary Justine Greening said in New York. “Putting a stop to deforestation is the smart thing to do,” she said. “Without action, the world will get hungrier, poorer and more dangerous. There is no point building a health clinic for poor people in Bangladesh if it will get washed away by the next floods.”

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