Brazilian Amazon deforestation at highest levels in eight years
- A 29% increase in Amazon deforestation signals a backwards step for conservation of Brazil’s largest biome
Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has grown to around 8 thousand km² in the last year - August 2015 to July 2016 - an increase of 29% over the same period of the previous year. This is the highest number released by the federal government since 2009, when it registered 7,464 km². The data was released on the website of the National Institute of Space Research (INPE), from the Amazon Deforestation Calculation Programme (Prodes), on Tuesday afternoon (29/11).
For a country known for its international leadership in tackling deforestation in the early 2000s by reducing Amazon deforestation by up to 80% - from almost 27,000 km² in 2005 to just over 4,500 km² in 2012 - these recent figures signal a backsliding.
Sarah Hutchison, WWF Head of Programmes - Brazil & Amazon said:
“This dramatic increase in deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is cause for considerable alarm and action. Sadly this is another example of the challenges faced globally. Our recent Living Planet Report has shown how wildlife populations globally – a window into the health of our planet – have declined by almost 60% since 1970. Habitat loss and degradation, like that seen in the Amazon, are driving forces threatening these wildlife populations as well as the vital ecosystem services provided by nature. The Amazon forest, for example, plays a vital role in our planet’s climate regulation.
“Brazil has in the past demonstrated that reductions in deforestation are possible. It is in everyone’s interest that Brazil progresses on its commitments of the Paris accord to end illegal deforestation. International businesses and financiers have an important role to play in eliminating deforestation from their supply chains and investments, however the drivers of deforestation in Brazil are complex and tackling them also require decisive action by the Brazilian government to put in place mechanisms to better value forests, revitalize deforestation prevention plans at federal and state level and improve land planning practices if these valuable rainforests are to be saved.”
There are several challenges to be overcome to halt deforestation. Among them are a weak land planning and strong land speculation, which plays a significant role in the loss of natural habitats.
Ricardo Mello, coordinator of WWF-Brazil's Amazon Program said:
"From 2014 until now the upward trend keeps growing. It is more than evident that if urgent action isn’t taken, deforestation could become out of control. Every increase is further from Brazil's international commitments.
"In addition, we see that the federal government has great difficulty in integrating with states and municipalities, fundamental for the successful implementation of Brazil’s prevention plan for combatting deforestation (PPCDAM,) - one of the policies responsible in the last decade for the success in reducing deforestation. Finally, Brazil does not have mechanisms to value its forests, which could provide better incentives for sustainable supply chains for Amazonian products"
This year’s deforestation figures demonstrate that Brazil still needs to work hard if it wants to make its contribution to international climate commitments. The Brazilian goal in the Paris Accord is to reduce emissions by 43% (based on 2005), to end illegal deforestation and to reforest 12 million hectares by 2030. Instead of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the country showed an increase of 3.5%, despite the country’s recent economic setbacks and drop in production.
The period analyzed was 2008 to now. That is, the date on which the owners, by obligation, began to declare the size, limits and conditions of natural vegetation preserved on their lands. The information is online at http://www.car.gov.br, allowing analysis of the dynamics of land use, the overlapping of private properties with protected areas and other functionalities.
In the last measurement of the Brazilian Forest Service, in October of this year, about 394 million hectares of the areas that could be registered were already in the system, surpassing the target of 330 million hectares stipulated by the Census.
Notes to editors
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About the Rural Environmental Registry and its influence on the dynamics of deforestation
The rural environmental registry was established by the country’s Forest code and registers rural properties and how much native habitat is conserved by each property. One of its main objectives is to contain illegal deforestation in the Amazon, where most properties are required to maintain 80% of their properties as forest. However, according to data presented today (29), in an event at the Brazilian Forest Service (SFB), some of the properties of some states included in the system, such as Pará, have continued to clear their forest areas.
WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.