Deforestation of the Amazon

Photo credit: ZME Science

It’s a black period for Brazil’s environment, and things will get even worse in days to follow; the government just applied (2011) a reform of the forestry code which will make it extremely easy to cut down massively on the rainforests in Brazil.

Amazon deforestation soars after a decade of stability

by Richard Schiffman

Deforestation in the Amazon has skyrocketed in the past half a year, according to analysis of satellite images issued by Brazil’s non-profit research institute,IMAZON.

The results compared the deforestation in a particular month with figures from the same month a year before, and the difference ranged from a 136 per cent increase in August to a 467 rise in September.

http://bloomtrigger.com/Content/PagesImages/deforestation-framed-images-for-rainforest-pages.png
http://bloomtrigger.com/Content/PagesImages/deforestation-framed-images-for-rainforest-pages.png

“Rates have way more than doubled over the equivalent period in the previous year,” says Phillip Fearnside, an ecologist with Brazil’s Amazon research agency INPA. And the numbers probably underestimate the problem, because the satellite system used, DETER, can only recognise clearings larger than 250,000 square metres. Many farm plots are smaller than that.

Deforestation rates started inching up in Brazil in 2013, a year that saw a 29 per cent rise in deforestation compared with 2012, according to IMAZON. But the latest figures come as a surprise, given the recent trend: deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon declined by 77 per cent between 2004 and 2011.

Global pattern

Several factors may be to blame, according to Fearnside. As the world economy continues to recover, demand has increased for beef and soybeans – commodities that are often produced on deforested land – and so too have the prices for these risen on the global market. The Brazilian currency, the real, has been gaining strength, which has spurred investment in new agricultural projects.

Read the full article: New Scientist

Advertisements

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.