In a move which embodies the spirit of international cooperation outlined by the UN climate summit underway in South Africa, Britain's Environment Secretary has pledged over $15 million to fight deforestation in Brazil. The funds are intended to combat rampant logging activities in the nation's fast-dwindling Cerrado forest by promoting local farmers, who in recent years have faced mounting pressure from large agricultural companies. The pledge is part of a wider international push to cut the rate of deforestation across the globe in half by the year 2020.
While slowing logging in the Amazon rainforest has been a key issue for decades, the Cerrado's tropical savanna ecosystem of Central Brazil has become a hotbed of deforestation, threatening countless species unique to the region. Much of the land has already been cleared to make room for soy plantations and vast cattle ranches to provide inexpensive beef to the developed world.
At the UN climate summit in Durban, South Africa, British Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman cited the Cerrado's global importance in announcing a $15.6 million pledge to support local farmers from the influence of big agriculture:
“The Cerrado is rich in biodiversity and yet, alarming, it has almost halved in size since, because of wild fires and the demand for agricultural products. If we’re going to stop the loss of biodiversity, we need to protect our forests – which house the majority of the world’s wildlife. We won’t succeed in tackling climate change unless we deal with deforestation,” said Spelman, as reported by The Telegraph.
Today, the clearing of forests throughout the world, though particularly in developing nations, stands as one of the chief contributors to climate change and extinctions. According to UN climate officials, one long-term goal of the current summit is to further cooperation and financial support between deforesting nations and the developed world, often the beneficiary of environmentally-impactful agricultural practices.
All told, Britain has pledged $4.5 billion to combat deforestation worldwide.