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 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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Brazil says rate of Amazon deforestation up for first time in years

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.

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Deforestation: Brazil is a success story for conservation

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.

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Brazil’s rainforest is going up in smoke. Again.

June 5, 2013

Mac Margolis – Newsweek, 06/05/2013

As Brazil’s skyscrapers and silos rose, it seemed the most impressive quality of this 21st-century Latin American powerhouse was its ability to grow without trashing the environment. Just last year, Brasilia was boasting about a steep decline in deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, a feat that President Dilma Rousseff trumpeted as “impressive, the fruit of social change.” What would she say now?

After nearly a decade of steady decline, forest cutting has spiked again the world’s largest rainforest. The nonprofit Amazon watchdog organization, Imazon, released a study reporting that deforestation at the hands of farmers and ranchers jumped 90 percent in the 12 months since April of last year. And since burning always follows felling, another 88 million tons of carbon dioxide and other gases hit the atmosphere- a 62 percent increase on the year.

For decades, Brazilians were told that ruin in the Amazon was the price of development. But recent research has imploded that assumption. A paper published by the National Academy of Sciences shows that continued deforestation threatens not just the trees but the progress and riches their removal were though to guarantee. The paper bolsters an old theory by Brazilian climate scientist Eneas Salati, who argued that the Amazon actually produced half its own rainfall. The takeaway: remove too much of the forests and the Amazon could dry out. And more than the jungle is at stake. Reduced rainfall from forest cutting could dry up the water that powers hydroelectric dams, thus slashing Brazilian power-generating capacity by 40 percent by mid century. It could also rob the food larder, cutting soybean productivity by 28 percent and beef production by 34 percent.

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Amazon be damned: deforestation undermines future viability of Brazil’s hydropower projects

May 16, 2013

Erin Brodwin – Scientific American, 05/15/2013

The Amazon Basin is the epicenter of the world’s hydropower plants—the same gushing rains that give the region its lush foliage make it a prime destination for developers seeking to capitalize on this allegedly renewable energy source. But the long-term sustainability of these projects, which use the natural flow of water to generate electricity, is now under scrutiny.

A new study of the Belo Monte Dam, one of the world’s largest hydropower energy complexes currently under construction on the Xingu River in the eastern region of the basin, found that large-scale deforestation in the Amazon poses a significant threat to a dam’s energy-generating potential.

Although many studies have examined the impacts of deforestation on the immediate vicinity of hydropower projects, less attention has been paid to its effects on a regional scale. In fact, earlier studies found that a loss of trees within the water basin of hydropower sites increased the energy-generating capacity of the dam in the short-term, because less trees were available to suck water from the ground and export it outside the watershed in a process known as evapotranspiration.

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