Deforestation Surging Again In Amazon Basin

Deforestation In Brazil Not Expected To Stop

The Brazilian government estimates that the rate of deforestation in the Amazon has increased by 29 percent over last year. That’s the second year in a row that deforestation in the Amazon accelerated. Last year, the pace rose by about 24 percent.

The estimated deforestation rate, released Tuesday by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE), is based on satellite imagery. The institute found that from August 2015 to July 2016, the Amazon rainforest was deforested at an estimated rate of 7,989 square kilometers (more than 3,000 square miles). The year before, it was 6,207 square kilometers. Two years ago, it was barely over 5,000 square kilometers.

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INPE acknowledged the increase but noted that the current rate represents a decrease of 71 percent, when compared with 2004. That was the year the government implemented a policy designed to curb deforestation; from 2004-2007, the rate of deforestation dropped rapidly.

Many observers had been prepared to see an increase in deforestation, but not one this high. The causes of the increased deforestation were actions taken by the federal government between 2012 and 2015, such as the waiving of fines for illegal deforestation, the abandonment of protected areas — that is, ‘conservation units’ and indigenous lands — and the announcement, which he calls ‘shameful,’ that the government doesn’t plan to completely stop illegal deforestation until the year 2030.

The rise in deforestation is raising concerns about Brazil’s ability to meet its commitments as part of the international Paris Agreement on combating climate change. Deforestation is a major contributor to climate change, and Brazil’s success in reducing deforestation from 2004 to 2014 was seen as a model for other developing countries.

A lack of funding has hampered the organization that’s tasked with stopping illegal logging efforts. The Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources, or Ibama, has struggled with budget cuts as Brazil grapples with a recession.

“The loggers are better equipped than we are,” said Uiratan Barroso, Ibama’s head of law enforcement. “Until we have the money to rent unmarked cars and buy proper radios we won’t be able to work. A 30 percent cut in Ibama’s budget has meant fewer operations this year. Helicopters and jeeps have been idle due to a lack of fuel.”

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Deforestation and Climate Change News via http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/11/30/503867628/deforestation-of-the-amazon-up-29-percent-from-last-year-study-finds

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Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems. Sacred Seedlings is a U.S.-based program that supports the vision of local stakeholders. We have projects ready across Africa. We seek additional projects elsewhere around the world. We also seek volunteers, sponsors and donors of cash and in-kind support. Write to Gary Chandler for more information gary@crossbow1.com

Commodity Boom Driving Deforestation

Industry Exploiting Resources At All Costs

By Nick Miroff, Washington Post

A commodity boom has pulled millions of people out of poverty across South America over the past decade. It also unleashed a scramble for oil, minerals and cropland that is accelerating deforestation and fueling a new wave of land conflicts from Colombia to Chile.

palm oil plantation deforestation

Now, as prices for oil and other commodities slide, economists and environmental researchers warn that the loss of forest cover may be hastened, leading to new clashes, as governments in the region try to maintain growth rates and spending levels by driving deeper into the jungle.

Satellite imagery of the Amazon basin, the world’s largest tropical forest and a critical bulwark against climate change, shows a stark divergence in the continent’s preservation efforts. In Brazil, the pace of deforestation has been reduced 75 percent since 2004, largely the result of tighter regulation and new environmental protections.

But in Colombia, Peru, Bolivia and the other five nations whose territories cover 40 percent of the Amazon basin, the loss of vegetation increased threefold in the same period, wiping out a combined area of forest larger than the state of Maryland. Last year, the pace of deforestation in those nations jumped 120 percent.

“Commodity prices, directly or indirectly, have increased deforestation in the Amazon,” said Kevin Gallagher, a development economist at Boston University who specializes in Latin America’s trade relations with China. “Price increases create the perception of scarcity, which pushes investors into new terrain,” he said.

deforestation and climate change

 

More than 80 million Latin Americans were lifted out of poverty in the past decade, according to the World Bank, which reports that as of 2011, “for the first time in recorded history, the region has a larger number of people in the middle class than in poverty.”

But a decline in commodity prices and a slowdown in the rate of China’s growth will sap Latin America’s expansion, the bank predicts, making it difficult “to expand the social gains amassed over the economic boom over the past decade.”

In several South American nations, the export bonanza has enabled populist leaders to significantly expand the role and the size of the state, by boosting social spending, developing infrastructure and taking greater control of major national industries.

Those measures have made leaders such as Bolivia’s Evo Morales and Ecuador’s Rafael Correa extremely popular at the polls, allowing them to preside over long periods of political stability and economic growth. But those presidents have pegged their ambitious development plans to export revenue, which has been squeezed by falling commodity prices. The loss of income is likely to leave some countries progressively indebted to resource-hungry China.

In Ecuador, the smallest member state of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, president Rafael Correa turned to Beijing after his country defaulted on its bonds in 2008, and found a deep-pocketed business partner. Now, Chinese loans account for more than 60 percent of the government’s financing, according to a Reuters analysis, and more than 90 percent of Ecuador’s oil exports are earmarked for China. Much of the oil never reaches Chinese shores, however, but is resold by Chinese traders on world markets, often ending up in refineries on the West Coast of the United States.

But the recent slump in oil prices leaves Ecuador owing more and more crude to China, creating new pressure for the government to expand the drilling frontier in the Amazon. In 2014, the government auctioned off new sectors of its Amazon territory, much of it to Chinese firms.

 

Chinese road-building crews and drilling rigs will cut into ancient forests where indigenous groups and un-contacted tribes living in “voluntary isolation” have violently resisted the oil industry.

“The Correa administration seems intent on trying to drill its way to prosperity, which has turned what was once pristine rain forest into a natural sacrifice zone crisscrossed by oil wells, roads and palm plantations,” said Kevin Koenig of the group Amazon Watch.

“Now Ecuador is financially beholden to China, so it’s seeking to auction off the rest of its Amazon forests for oil concessions,” he said. “That could spell disaster for its remaining forests and the indigenous peoples who call them home.”

The struggling socialist government of oil-rich Venezuela, where the deforestation rate was the worst last year in South America, is similarly indebted to Beijing. But the resource push is hardly exclusive to the region’s left-leaning governments.

In Colombia, illegal mining, petroleum extraction and the expansion of the country’s fast-growing palm oil industry have contributed to deforestation and violence involving Marxist rebels, government troops and paramilitary groups often acting on behalf of landowners, according to rights groups.

Despite the simmering civil conflict, Colombia’s economy is the fastest-growing in South America, and the government has spent the past two years in peace talks with commanders of the country’s largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. A peace agreement could bring a flood of investment into extractive industries and exacerbate deforestation.

Peru’s economy expanded more than any other during the decade of high commodity prices, led by its mining industry. A new highway linking the country to Brazil opened a gateway for tens of thousands of impoverished highlanders to fan out into the jungle prospecting for alluvial gold. In a matter of months, their dredgers and mercury kits can convert vast tracts of green forest into lunar-like wastes.

With gold prices falling, struggling President Ollanta Humala has scaled back environmental regulations in a bid to attract new capital, while also pushing to open up more jungle areas to oil and natural gas development.

“Price declines and slower growth make nations more desperate, and they can be more apt to weakening environmental standards in order to grab at any investment,” said Gallagher, the development economist, who is the co-author of “The Dragon in the Room: China & the future of Latin American Industrialization.”

When prices fall, “countries and investors seeking bargain-basement prices swoop into the Amazon,” he said. “We can expect to see a surge in Chinese investment in the Amazon in this manner in years to come.”

Louis Reymondin is the main developer of a satellite imagery program called Terra-i, which is used by governments and environmental groups to monitor deforestation, and he said the technology offers a dose of optimism.

“The ability to monitor where and when deforestation occurs was key to support the decrease in deforestation rates in Brazil by allowing the local authorities to identify illegal events and quickly act,” he said.

“I think in most countries, the authorities are aware of the importance of Amazon forest and recognize the importance of implementing efficient ways to conserve it, or use it in a sustainable way,” Reymondin said.

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/south-american-commodity-boom-drives-deforestation-and-land-conflicts/2014/12/31/0c25e522-78cc-4075-8b21-31bcc3e0fddb_story.html?postshare=4601420117074373

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Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems. Sacred Seedlings is a U.S.-based program that supports the vision of local stakeholders. We have projects ready across Africa. We seek additional projects elsewhere around the world. We also seek volunteers, sponsors and donors of cash and in-kind support. Write to Gary Chandler for more information gary@crossbow1.com

Hydropower Projects Depend On Rainforest Conservation

Deforestation Will Undermine Water Projects

Although controversial in many regards, large hydro-power projects are a source of clean energy production once in place. This energy source is dependent upon natural rainfall, which means these regional projects must conserve the rainforest to avoid disruptions in rainfall, which can decrease the amount of power generated by the plant.

New research recently published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that a necessary part of increasing the electricity produced by hydro-power projects is conserving the local habitats.

forest tribes and forest conservation

The research explains that conserving rainforests in the Amazon River Basin will increase the amount of electricity produced by hydro-power projects in the region, and is the first study of its kind to quantify the impact regional rainforest cover has on energy production.

According to the findings from the report, rainforests are more critical than previously understood in generating the rainfall that drives river flow, and subsequently power generation, in tropical areas. Conversely, if deforestation continues to increase in the Amazon Rainforest, energy projections for the Belo Monte dam in Brazil will decline by one third.

“Our study shows that the huge strides Brazil has made in slowing Amazon deforestation are actually helping secure the nation’s energy supply,” says Claudia Stickler, the study’s lead author and scientist at the Amazon Environmental Research Institute International Program (IPAM-IP) who provided their progress to Phys.org. “But these efforts must continue hand-in-hand with conservation at the regional level.”

rainforest destruction Peru

Bloomberg New Energy Finance reported earlier this year that large hydro would be the largest form of clean energy production by 2030, so understanding how best to facilitate that production is a necessary next step.

The research showed that if Amazon Rainforest deforestation continues unchecked the energy output supplied by the Belo Monte Dam — which will be one of the world’s largest dams upon completion — would fall by approximately 30 percent, equivalent to increasing four million more Brazilians into the world.

“These results are extremely important for long-term energy planning,” explains climatologist Marcos Costa, one of the study’s authors from the Federal University of Viçosa in Brazil. “We are investing billions of dollars in hydropower plants around the world. The more rainforests left standing, the more water we’ll have in the rivers, and the more electricity we’ll be able to get from these projects.”

The research ran simulations working from various levels of rainforest deforestation and found that rainfall is currently 6-7 percent lower than it would be with full forest cover. If, by 2050 the estimates of 40 percent deforestation occur as some experts predict, then rainfall will be 11-15 percent lower which will result in 35-40 percent less power.

source: http://cleantechnica.com/2013/05/15/hydropower-projects-depend-on-rainforest-conservation/

climate change and deforestation

Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems. Sacred Seedlings is a U.S.-based program that supports the vision of local stakeholders. We have projects ready across Africa. We seek additional projects elsewhere around the world. We also seek volunteers, sponsors and donors of cash and in-kind support.