Deforestation Increased as World Prepared for COP15

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Photo via Greenpeace

During COP15 earlier this month, Brazil stood out among developing nations for its bold commitments to curbing carbon emissions and reducing deforestation of the Amazon rainforest--and was perhaps the most vocal in its disappointment of the results. Last year, Brazil pledged to reduce deforestation 80 percent by 2020, and it seemed they were on track to fulfill it: the rate of deforestation had dropped to 64% of what it was in 2005. This last November, however, as the world set its sights on the conference in Copenhagen and Brazil prepared to do its part in finding a solution to climate change, 75 square kilometers of Amazon rainforest was destroyed.The Amazon watchdog group The Institute of Man and Environment (Imazon), was the first to discover the recent devastation, according to a report by Globo. The number of 75 square kilometers is 21% higher than in November 2008, when deforestation cleared 61 square kilometers of rainforest.


The majority (66%) of the deforestation occurred in private areas or in various stages of ownership. The rest of deforestation was reported in agrarian reform settlements (28%) and 6% in protected areas.

Currently, 20 percent of the Amazon rainforest has been destroyed and numerous solutions for saving the remaining 80 percent have been presented. Up until now, much of Brazil's success in curbing deforestation has come from stepped-up enforcement of logging rules and from adding greater oversight of ranching operations. Recently, however, Brazil's President Lula offered amnesty to ranchers from tough new regulations which were intended to take effect this month.

Nevertheless, battling deforestation has long been a priority of the current Brazilian leadership, and how they respond to reports of increasing levels of deforestation will reflect upon their commitment to combating climate change. According to the Government, the decrease in expected rate of deforestation in the Amazon would result in a reduction of emissions in the country of 580 million tons of CO2 per year.

Imazon, which monitors the Amazon via satellite, points out that the figure of 75 square kilometers destroyed in November could actually be quite higher--as it was only possible to monitor 68 percent of the rainforest due to cloud cover.

More on Deforestation in the Amazon
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