Brazil’s Gift to the World in 2009: Lowest Amazon Deforestation in 20 Years

Rio Claro, an Amazon tributary According to Brazil's first National Inventory of Greenhouse Gases, up to 75% of Brazil's emissions come from deforestation and land use change. Combating deforestation in the Amazon rainforest is Brazil's largest contribution to tackling climate change.

Measures to protect the Amazon will account for more than half of the country's voluntary goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions between 36.1 and 38.9 percent by 2020, announced in November by Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

In 2009, Brazil's efforts to halt destruction of the forest yielded historic results.  Deforestation rates in the Brazilian Amazon dropped 45.7 percent from August 2008 to July 2009, according to data released by Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE) in November.

Estimates based on analysis of satellite imagery show that 7,008 square kilometers of forest were cleared in Brazil during the 12-month period, the lowest rate since the government started monitoring deforestation in 1988.

According to the Ministry of Environment, the slowing deforestation levels are primarily a result of the Action Plan for Deforestation Control and Prevention in the Amazon, a set of cross-government policies and measures launched in 2004 to improve monitoring, strengthen enforcement, define conservation areas and foster sustainable activities in the region. 

With the support of 13 government agencies, the plan played a major role in helping reduce deforestation in the Amazon by 74.8% from 2004 to 2009.

The National Plan on Climate Change, launched in December 2008, aims to reduce Amazon deforestation by 80% by 2020. To meet this goal, the plan has set out a number of initiatives to combat illegal logging and provide sustainable economic alternatives to the people living in the Amazon, as well as other measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in different sectors of the Brazilian economy.

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