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 Drought Boosts Coffee Prices, Threatens Sugar Production

October 14, 2014

Brianna Lee – International Business Times, 10/13/2014

A deepening drought crisis across Brazil is hitting two of the country’s largest exports as coffee prices surged to their highest level in two years and sugar production is headed for a steep decline. The drought affecting Brazil this year is the worst the country has faced in decades, triggering alarm for cities like Sao Paulo, which has instituted emergency measures to cope with a water supply crisis.

The price of Arabica coffee, of which Brazil is the world’s top supplier, soared to a two-year high last week as meteorologists predicted low prospects for rainfall in Brazil’s coffee-producing regions for the rest of October and November.

Brazil joins other Central American countries dealing with coffee crop woes as El Salvador, Honduras, Panama and Guatemala have all dealt not only with drought but also coffee rust, a fungus that hit crops and resulted in the loss of more than $1 billion since 2011. Meanwhile, however, Colombian coffee seems to be taking advantage of the situation. Colombia’s coffee output looks set to reach a 20-year high this year.

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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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Brazil Says No to Global Forest Plan

September 23, 2014

Associated Press – ABC News, 09/23/2014

Despite its critical role in protecting the Amazon rainforest, Brazil will not endorse a global anti-deforestation initiative being announced at the U.N. climate summit, complaining it was left out of the consultation process. A U.N. official disputed that claim.

Brazilian Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said Brazil was “not invited to be engaged in the preparation process” of the declaration. Instead, she said Brazil was given a copy of the text and asked to endorse it without being allowed to suggest any changes.

“Unfortunately, we were not consulted. But I think that it’s impossible to think that you can have a global forest initiative without Brazil on board. It doesn’t make sense,” Teixeira said in an interview Monday with The Associated Press.

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Brazil Says No to Anti-Deforestation Plans: The Difficulty of a Global Response to Climate Change

September 23, 2014

Hannah Osborne – International Business Times, 09/23/2014

Brazil has refused to endorse a global anti-deforestation initiative put forward at the UN climate summit because it says it was left out of the consultation process.

According to an exclusive report by the Associated Press, environment minister Izabella Teixeira said her country was “not invited to be engaged in the preparation process” of the plan.

“Unfortunately, we were not consulted. But I think that it’s impossible to think that you can have a global forest initiative without Brazil on board. It doesn’t make sense,” she said. However, a UN official denied her claims, saying “there were efforts to reach out to the Brazilian government”. Charles McNeill, a senior environmental policy adviser with the UN, said: “There wasn’t a response [from Brazil].”

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