Brazilian army will try to stem destruction of Amazon

Reuters

Brazil on Thursday unveiled measures to slow deforestation of the Amazon region including one that calls for the army to help carry out inspections.

“Our aim is to establish institutional mechanisms to prevent deforestation,” Justice Minister Tarso Genro told reporters after an emergency meeting between Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his ministers.

Environment Minister Marina Silva said the recent rise in commodity prices may have contributed to the stepped-up pace of deforestation.

From August to December last year, 1,250 square miles of the Amazon forest, known as “the lungs of the world” for its ability to consume greenhouse gases and produce oxygen, were destroyed, according to the government. This figure is expected to double when higher resolution satellite images are analyzed.

Landowners in the area will have to prove they maintain preservation areas, and could face penalties like being denied official credit if they fail to meet some requirements. Additionally, companies like trading houses, soybean crushers and meat processors that buy commodities originating from destroyed areas of the forest will be considered responsible for deforestation.

The steps came one day after Brazilian officials said Amazon destruction had surged during the last five months of 2007. Deforestation rose from 94 square miles in August to 366 square miles in December.

* For a story of the settlers vs the environmentalists and local Indians; read here.

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2 Responses to Brazilian army will try to stem destruction of Amazon

  1. raz godelnik says:

    Hi Matt,

    think that thev Brazilian government’s plan is good, but I am not sure how well it can fight the economic incentives that drives the massive deforestation we see now. I think that another step to be taken is to give a counter-incentive to keep these trees alive. If local governments and municipalities will be paid to protect these trees, then they have an economic value as live trees. If this value will be high enough, then it will be worthwhile to keep them alive.

    I think the measures should be based on the stick and the carrot both and not only rely on the stick. Give local communities the carrot and I promise you that you will see deforestation figures decrease again.

    I also think it shouldn’t be the sole responsibility of the Brazilian government to take care of it. The Brazilian rain forest is called “the lungs of the world” for its ability to consume greenhouse gases and produce oxygen, and hence I believe the world should chip in.

    Just last week I wrote on our blog on Norway’s announcement on its willingness to contribute about $500 million a year to projects aimed at protecting forests in developing countries. I think this kind of funding (and of course other countries should contribute as well) can make some good in Brazil and help Lula protect this precious natural resource.

    Best,

    Raz Godelnik
    Eco-Libris
    http://www.ecolibris.net

  2. matt says:

    Hi Raz

    I agree with the idea to empower and provide incentives for local people to preserve their local forested areas. Quite how this would be administered I’m not entirely sure.

    Norway’s offer is fantastic too. A good way to spend their oil money and relieve their consciences.

    Yes, as always the carrot and the stick are both needed. Bringing the army in though is a very new approach to conservation, except of course in Africa where a shoot to kill policy has been used for some time now to deal with poachers.

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