Monday, October 20, 2014

Brazil must target smallholders to curb rising deforestation

Anastasia Moloney in the Guardian (UK) via the Thomson Reuters Foundation: 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. “Despite the gains made to stem deforestation from 2004 onwards … the outlook today is not all positive,” said Javier Godar, a research fellow at SEI and lead author of the study.

In 2013, deforestation increased by 28% compared with the previous year. Godar said part of the reason for the rise was that many conservation areas had been scaled down or had their protection status changed, and flagship public-private initiatives, such as a moratorium on trading soya beans from newly deforested areas in the Amazon, were about to end. A boom in infrastructure projects in the Amazon since 2009, including the building of new roads and dams, may also be contributing to Brazil’s rising deforestation rates, Godar said....

A logging truck in the Mato Grasso, shot by Herr Klugbeisser, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons 3.0 license 

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