The Brazilian government is announcing that deforestation rates in the Brazilian Amazon declined 14% from August 2009 to July 2010, reaching the lowest rates ever recorded for the second consecutive year.
Satellite images analyzed by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) show that an estimated 6,450 square kilometers of forests were cleared in the 12-month period, bringing rates to their lowest since monitoring started in 1988.
The record-breaking decrease, says the Lula administration, represents a major contribution to reducing Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions, as global negotiations progress at the 16th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP16), currently underway in Cancun, Mexico.
“We are fulfilling the commitment we have made in Brazil. We will fulfill it because it’s our obligation to do so,” said president Lula in Brazilian capital Brasília. Lula also announced new integrated policies to promote sustainable development in the Amazon region, alongside the first results from Brazil’s deforestation monitoring system in the Atlantic Forest.
“We are committed to advancing the reduction in deforestation, improving monitoring and creating the conditions for sustainable development in the region,” said Minister of Environment Izabella Teixeira, who joined Lula for the announcement in Brasilia. “We are doing our homework, and the world needs to respond accordingly.”
In 2009, Brazil voluntarily passed into law a commitment to cut its projected greenhouse gas emissions between 36.1 and 38.9% by 2020. Deforestation reduction is a critical part of Brazil’s strategy to reduce national emissions; official calculations estimate that meeting deforestation reduction targets could reduce Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions by up to 24.7%.
In October 2010, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva announced that Brazil’s 80% Amazon deforestation reduction target would be met by 2016, four years earlier than planned.
According to the Ministry of Environment, the successive drops in Amazon deforestation rates are a result of the Plan for Amazon Deforestation Prevention and Control (PPCDAM), an integrated set of integrated government policies that combine enhanced satellite monitoring and enforcement operations with land tenure regularization, alongside initiatives to encourage sustainable activities in the region.
With the support of 13 government agencies, PPCDAM was instrumental in helping to reduce deforestation in the Amazon by 76.8% from 2004 to 2010.
Satellite images analyzed by INPE’s near-real time deforestation detection system (DETER) have enabled the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA), with support from the Federal Police, to set up precise and effective enforcement operations to halt illegal deforestation as it happens.
The engagement of state governments, civil society and the private sector has also played a major role in curbing deforestation, including efforts to renew sectoral pacts to halt the conversion of forests for soybean production in the Amazon.
In July 2010, Brazil’s ban on the commercialization of soy grown in the Amazon was extended for the fourth consecutive year. In addition, seven of the nine Amazon states have already developed and approved their own action plans to fight deforestation at the local level.
An important part of the government’s strategy to prevent deforestation and conserve Brazil’s biodiversity-rich forests is the creation of protected areas. According to the Global Biodiversity Outlook 3, a report released earlier this year by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), nearly 75% of the 700,000 square kilometers of protected areas created around the world since 2003 are located in Brazil.
President Lula also signed a decree establishing the Amazon Ecological-Economic Macrozoning initiative, a set of strategies to guide and stimulate sustainable development in the Amazon region. The document divides the Legal Amazon region into 10 different zones and specifies the nature of economic activity that can be carried out in each of them, in accordance with sustainability criteria.
It aims to avoid deforestation by halting the expansion of agriculture and cattle ranching into areas of native vegetation, while fostering the use and recovery of already degraded lands for agribusiness activities.
The decree also establishes that the National Monetary Committee shall define new rules restricting finance for rural and agro-industrial activities in the Amazon, according to the criteria included in the Macrozoning. In addition, the document proposes a number of fiscal and economic incentives to encourage the expansion of sustainable activities in the region.
Evolution of deforestation rates in the Brazilian Amazon
Year Rate (km2)
Source: National Institute for Space