Brazil’s Deforestation Rate Rises for Second Straight Year

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By Michael Kepp

Dec. 1 — Deforestation claimed an estimated 7,989 square kilometers (3,085 square miles) of Brazil’s Amazon region in the year ending July 31—a 29 percent spike over the previous year, the National Space Research Institute said Nov. 29.

“The Brazilian Amazon deforestation rate fluctuates for a variety of complex causes, some of which involve variations in the intention to boost farming and ranching production, based on the price of commodities and markets, and the intensity of federal and state enforcement efforts to combat deforestation,” Dalton Valeriano, Amazon program coordinator the National Space Research Institute (INPE), told Bloomberg BNA Nov. 30.

The estimated deforestation was the most Amazon land cleared since the year ending July 31, 2008, and marked the first time in 12 years that the Brazilian Amazon’s deforestation rate increased for a second consecutive year.

Institute estimates for Brazilian Amazon deforestation are based on high-resolution satellite images.

If it does not curb Amazon deforestation—given that it accounts for 20 percent of Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions—then it will be harder for the country to reach its emissions reductions targets under the Paris climate agreement, environmentalists said.

Brazil in September ratified its Paris Agreement pledge to reduce its carbon emissions by 37 percent by 2025 and by 43 percent by 2030 compared to its levels in 2005.

“Because INPE data indicates that Brazilian Amazon deforestation has increased for the last two consecutive years, the government will have to work harder and allot much more money to curb it in 2017,” Alfredo Sirkis, executive secretary of the Brazilian Forum on Climate Change, told Bloomberg BNA Nov. 30.

“If Brazil doesn’t take such proactive steps to reduce Amazon deforestation it will face international embarrassment and criticism for not taking its Paris climate agreement commitments seriously enough,” he added.

Paulo Barreto, a senior researcher at the nonprofit Institute for Man and the Amazon Environment (Imazon), told Bloomberg BNA Nov. 30 that “the rise in Brazilian Amazon deforestation for the last two straight years is likely the result of higher international prices of soy and beef—the Amazon being a main region in Brazil where these commodities are sourced—and fewer environmental field agents to monitor against illegal cutting.”

More than 18 percent of the Brazilian Amazon has been deforested, according to INPE.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Kepp in Rio de Janeiro at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Gregory Henderson at ghenderson@bna.com

For More Information

An INPE statement on Brazilian Amazon deforestation is available in, Portuguese, at http://bit.ly/2gxNCoe.

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