1,645 hectares of the Amazon that has been illegally deforested.
New figures released by the Brazilian authorities, show
deforestation rates of 3235km2 from August-December 2007. However,
as the tracking system used only shows preliminary deforestation
rates, the real figure is likely to be much higher. When more
detailed satellite images are analysed they are expected to reveal
that some 7,000 km2 of rainforest has been destroyed in just 5
For the last three years the Brazilian Government has been
claiming credit for decreasing rates of Amazon deforestation.
However the falling price of soya and beef meant less pressure to
clear land for cattle ranching and soya plantations. Once demand
for these products rose again, many experts, including our own
Amazon team, warned that without decisive action from the Brazilian
government increased deforestation was inevitable.
Our Amazon Coordinator, Paulo Adario, saw warnings go largely
unheeded: "The Brazilian government can not claim to be caught by
surprise. Greenpeace warned throughout last year that increases in
the price of soya and beef meant that unless urgent counter
measures were taken deforestation would rise."
"If President Lula is serious about Brazil being a world leader
in the fight against deforestation then he must implement long-term
solid measures to ensure the Amazon cannot fall victim to
deforestation as a result of rising commodity prices."
Unfortunately it appears the Brazilian Government missed the
chance to effectively deal with the root causes of deforestation
over the last three years. It has just release a response to the
figures, announcing a mixture of new and repackaged old protection
measures. To date the Governments track record of enforcing
protection measures in the
Amazon has been woeful.
Eating up the Amazon
In 2006 we exposed the role of
soya in the destruction of the Amazon, along with the local
community of Santarém, Brazil. in July 2006, this lead to the soy
industry announcing a
landmark moratorium on forest clearing. It is vital that the
moratorium is now extended, as it is key to protecting the
Much of the soya is exported to feed cattle and chickens for
Amazon - vital for biodiversity and the climate
Deforestation is a major contributor to climate change, causing
about 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Brazil is the
world's 4th largest contributor to global warming, mainly due to
deforestation and land clearing in the Amazon.
Behind that alarming fact lie further drivers of Amazon
destruction. The US has launched huge,
misguided subsidies for biofuels from maize. This has lead US
farmers to swap soya crops for maize hence helping drive up the
global price of soya. So a false climate solution in one part of
the world could be harming the global climate by helping encourage
new Amazon deforestation.
The Amazon needs the Brazilian Government to take decisive
action on the ground to halt deforestation. Globally tropical
forests are being felled for timber, and provide land for food and
most recently to make way for biofuels.
That's why we aim to ensure that deforestation is included in
the next phase of the Kyoto climate agreement extending beyond
2012. The decisions that governments make in the near future are
critical for securing the financing and capacity needed by
safeguard their tropical forests and to allow them to make a
serious contribution to global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas
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