Brazil’s deforestation drops by 74%
IGUASSU FALLS, Brazil — As of 2008, more than 17 percent of the Amazon rainforest had been cleared for agriculture and otherdevelopment. But in Brazil the rate of deforestation has dropped dramatically in recent years, thanks to a variety of incentives that nmay provide a model for other regions.
Recent studies have identified several factors driving deforestation worldwide, reported Ruth S. DeFries, a geographer at Columbia
University, on August 9. For the period from 2000 to 2005, two of the main causes were urban population growth and the expansion of large-scale agriculture. Ironically, she noted, population growth in rural areas, where almost all of the world’s remaining forests are located, is relatively stable and doesn’t seem to drive deforestation. Despite deforestation in many regions, large areas of forest remain untouched worldwide, DeFries noted. And fortunately, she said, half of that virgin forest sits in nations such as Peru, Suriname, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where agricultural pressure is relatively low.
Policies such as those implemented in Brazil in recent years can help preserve those forests, DeFries suggested. Besides stepping up enforcement of the strict laws regarding deforestation in the nation, Brazil has reduced the availability of bank loans to large agricultural producers, boosted incentives to increase agricultural production on lands already cleared and increased public awareness campaigns about deforestation. The result: Deforestation losses in the nation dropped from 28,000 square kilometers in 2004 to about 7,500 square kilometers in 2009, a decrease of almost 74 percent.
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