September 11, 2014
Vincent Bevins – Los Angeles Times, 09/10/2014
The deforestation of the Amazon in Brazil increased by 29% in the last recorded year, according to figures released Wednesday by the country’s National Institute for Space Research, or INPE. It is the first time the deforestation rate has increased since 2008, and the report comes as environmental issues move to the center of Brazil’s October presidential election.
According to the study, carried out by satellite imaging, the Brazilian region of the world’s largest rain forest lost 2,275 square miles, nearly five times the area of the city of Los Angeles, from August 2012 through July 2013.
Despite the jump, the space agency noted that this is still the second-lowest number since it began monitoring deforestation in 1988, when more than 7,700 square miles were lost.
September 10, 2014
Kitco News – Forbes, 9/10/2014
Illegal gold mining is by no means a new phenomenon, but it has been getting more and more attention with gold’s decade-long bull run.
In the past, the focus on illegal gold mining has been more about the money countries are losing, but the spotlight is how starting to shift to the impact of these illegal practices on the environment.
At the moment, the Amazon rainforest, Earth’s largest rainforest, is seeing a growing number of illegal miners operating within it, causing environmental damage and disrupting Indigenous tribes living on government protected land.
August 29, 2014
BBC News, 8/27/2014
The authorities in Brazil say they have dismantled a criminal organisation they believe was the “biggest destroyer” of the Amazon rainforest.
The gang is accused of invading, logging and burning large areas of public land and selling these illegally for farming and grazing. In a statement, Brazilian Federal Police said the group committed crimes worth more than $220m (£134m).
A federal judge has issued 14 arrest warrants for alleged gang members. Twenty-two search warrants were also issued and four suspects are being called in for questioning.
August 28, 2014
Eva Botkin-Kowacki – The Christian Science Monitor, 8/28/2014
Climate scientists link about 10 percent of annual global carbon increase to the effects of deforestation. But a new study points to a promising shift.
In the 1990s, tropical deforestation claimed 40 million acres each year, according to a report released in June by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Today, about 32 million acres of forests fall each year, a drop of about 19 percent.
Trees grow by absorbing carbon dioxide, locking it away in their roots, trunks, branches, and leaves, and emitting oxygen in return.
August 25, 2014
The Economist (print edition), 8/23/2014
In 1998 Fernando Henrique Cardoso, then Brazil’s president, said he would triple the area of the Amazonian forest set aside for posterity. At the time the ambition seemed vain: Brazil was losing 20,000 square kilometres (7,700 square miles) of forest a year. Over the next 15 years loggers, ranchers, environmentalists and indigenous tribes battled it out—often bloodily—in the world’s largest tropical forest. Yet all the while presidents were patiently patching together a jigsaw of national parks and other protected patches of forest to create the Amazon Region Protected Areas (ARPA), a protected area 20 times the size of Belgium. Now, less than 6,000 sq km of Brazil’s Amazonian forest is cleared each year. In May the government and a group of donors agreed to finance ARPA for 25 years. It is the largest tropical-forest conservation project in history.
This matters because of Brazil’s size: with 5m sq km of jungle, it has almost as much as the next three countries (Congo, China and Australia) put together. But it also matters for what it may signal: that the world could be near a turning point in the sorry story of tropical deforestation.
Typically, countries start in poverty with their land covered in trees. As they clear it for farms or fuel, they get richer—until alarm bells ring and they attempt to recover their losses. This happens at different stages in different places, but the trajectory is similar in most: a reverse J, steeply down, then bottoming out, then up—but only part of the way. This is usually called the “forest transition curve”. Brazil seems to be nearing the bottom. The world may be, too.
July 25, 2014
Jason Koebler – Motherboard, 7/22/2014
It has happened many times before, and it’s happening again: Members of apreviously uncontacted tribe that recently made contact with the outside world have gotten sick. Now, they’ve retreated back into the Amazon Rainforest, which is very bad news, as it puts the entire tribe at risk of infection—and possibly death.
Last month, seven members of an unnamed, uncontacted tribe in northwestern Brazil became the first of its kind to interact with the Brazilian government in nearly 20 years after reportedly being driven out of the forest by a traumatic event—perhaps the invasion of their land by illegal loggers in Peru. The tribe had been living in the forest completely uninterrupted and without communication with the world outside of the Amazon Rainforest, which is one of the reasons they’re often referred to as “isolated” tribes.
In any case, each of the seven tribe members got the flu, according to FUNAI, the Brazilian agency that deals with indigenous populations. That’s what happens when uncontacted tribes are contacted, because its members haven’t spent hundreds of years being exposed to the diseases that most people’s bodies have become accustomed to.
July 25, 2014
Better utilization of its vast areas of pasturelands could enable Brazil to dramatically boost agricultural production without the need to clear another hectare of Amazon rainforest, cerrado, or Atlantic forest, argues a new study published in the journal Global Environmental Change.
Modeling agricultural yield potential, Brazilian researchers from the International Institute for Sustainability, Brazil’s agricultural research agency Embrapa, and the national space research agency INPE find that Brazil could turn more than 30 million hectares of land that is currently pasture over to more productive crops, increasing overall agricultural output.
“Our analysis shows that Brazil already has enough to absorb the largest expansion of agricultural production in the world in the next three decades, without deforesting an additional hectare of natural areas and agricultural livestock areas,” said lead author Bernardo Strassburg, a professor at Pontificia Universidade Catolica (PUC-Rio) and executive director at the International Institute for Sustainability. “The key is to increase productivity of the pasture areas. Today we use only a third of the potential of our pasture, and if we pass this potential and use half of it, in 30 years we could increase the production of meat by 50%, and release 32 million acres for other crops such as soybeans and planted forests.”