• Are the 2013 deforestation rates in the Amazon a cause for concern?

    In January of this year, the Brazilian environmental institutes IPAM, IMAZON and ISA published a report detailing the deforestation levels which were seen in the Amazon Rainforest during 2013; their overall opinion being that the increase rate between 2012 and 2013 is simply ‘unacceptable.’

    The report, entitled ‘The Increase in Deforestation in the Amazon in 2013: a point off curve or out of control?’ states that in 2012-2013, the rate of deforestation saw an increase of 28% which, although the second lowest rate recording since monitoring began in 1988, represents great waste within the region in addition to the vast deforested land area that is not used to its full potential. This area was estimated to measure 12 million hectares and if 25% of this were appropriately used, one advantage would be that the demand for beef would be met until 2022.

    amazon deforestation rate 2013

    Map showing Amazon deforestation levels in 2012 and 2013.

    The deforestation of the past year produced 253 million tons of CO2 emissions which is three times more than the emission volume from the transportation sector in Brazil in 2012.

    The report goes on to explain some possible reasons for this increase, which the three institutes consider to be especially relevant, such as the increase in prices for agricultural products, the construction of roads and ports, and the lack of pressure applied by the government and public investments on socio-environmental safeguards already in place.

    However, there have been many successes within the region regarding fighting deforestation in the past. From 2005, the forest destruction rates progressively decreased due to control measures being introduced such as greater rule enforcement and the creation of conservation units. When deforestation rates were seen to increase again in 2008, even greater measures were introduced to combat it such as legal action being taken against companies buying cattle from illegally deforested areas.

    With the recently observed increase in deforestation rates, it is necessary to introduce new measures to combat it whilst pushing forward with already established and effective ones. The authors of the report suggest the implementation of legislation enforcement and rapid punishment of environmental crimes, the creation of economic incentives for conservation, discouragement of land speculation, and co-ordination of the allocation of territories to use them to their full potential.

    The report ends with the institutes describing the fight against deforestation as an ever-lasting one where the objective must be to see a day with 0 levels. It is believed that with a joint effort by society and the public sector, the recent increase of deforestation rates in the Amazon during 2013 will be a ‘curve off’ rather than the reversal of the efforts already put into the fight for the Rainforest.

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