David Sim – International Business Times, 11/24/2014
Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is on the increase for the first time in ten years. Deforestation rose last year by 16%, as current policies appear to be failing to deter forest destruction caused mainly by illegal logging and cattle expansion.
Brazil had success in the last decade combating deforestation, consequently cutting carbon emissions. But the country’s annual greenhouse gas emissions were almost 8% higher in 2013 than one year earlier. The Observatorio do Clima, or Climate Observatory, said in a report that greenhouse gas emissions amounted to 1.57 billion metric tons in 2013 compared to 1.45 billion metric tons in 2012.
The increase was a reversal in a trend of declining levels that started in 2005 as emissions of greenhouse gases dropped year by year as deforestation fell. However, compared to a peak of 2.86 billion tonnes of CO2 emitted in 2004, the 2013 number is still 45% smaller.
Deforestation in the Amazon destroyed an area almost as big as the United Kingdom between 2000 and 2010, environmental watchdog agencies said Tuesday.
The study prepared by the Amazon Information Network was released in Bolivia. It showed that close to 93,000 square miles (240,000 square kilometers) of Amazon rainforest were devastated in the 10-year period, the network said in a statement.
The main culprits are illegal logging, the construction of highways, mining, farming and ranching, the construction of hydroelectric dams and oil and gas drilling and exploration.
Sixty-three percent of the rainforest’s 2.4 million square miles (6.1 million square kilometers) are in Brazil, and 80.4 percent of the 2000-2010 deforestation occurred in that country, the study said. Peru was responsible for 6.2 percent of the deforestation, and Colombia came in third with 5 percent.
The pace of Amazon deforestation in Brazil and the other countries, with the exception of Colombia and French Guiana, has slowed, the study said.
Deforestation in Brazil’s huge Amazon region has slowed in recent years, and this week the government said it was at its lowest level since monitoring began 24 years ago. But despite tougher regulations, unscrupulous loggers are still finding ways to get timber out of the jungle and selling it as legally felled wood, locals say.
Fabio Lourenco de Souza, a young Brazilian farmer, lives in a settlement known as PDS Esperanca (Hope), in the Xingu river valley in eastern Amazonia.
Although the land is rich in tropical timber, along with most of the 300 families in the settlement, he wants nothing to do with loggers.
“It makes no sense at all for us to start logging the timber on our settlement,” says Fabio, who stops work on the construction of a new wooden house for himself and his family to talk. “The logging companies would not pay us enough for the wood, and would destroy the forest, and we need it for the future of our children.”
Google unveiled a cultural map of Brazil’s Surui indigenous people, a tool that will help the Amazonian tribe share their knowledge of the forest and fight illegal logging.
The map, the result of a five-year partnership between Surui chief Almir and the US technology giant, was released online for the first time at a business forum held on the sidelines of the UN Rio+20 conference on sustainable development.
The map, a collection of picture and videos mapping historical sites and offering 3D visualisation of Surui territory in the northwestern Brazilian state of Rondonia, is available on the site http://www.paiter.orgas well as on Google Earth.