President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva announced that deforestation in his country’s part of the rainforest declined by 14 percent between August 2009 and July 2010. The figure was based on satellite images from the country’s National Institute for Space Research.
“We are fulfilling the commitment we have made in Brazil. We will fulfill it because it’s our obligation to do so,” the president said in Brasilia with other environment officials.
Brazil committed voluntarily to pass a law in 2009 to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions between 36.1 and 38.9 percent by 2020.
Brazil is the world’s fourth biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, due mainly to the deforestation of the Amazon which is said to account for 20 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions.
The findings state that an estimated 6,450 square kilometers of forests were cleared during the 12-month period. These figures are the lowest since the institute began its monitoring in 1988.
Within only two years, from the 2008’s rate of 12,911 square kilometers cleared up to the present, the figure has dropped by half.
According to the president, the findings lead to the possibility that Brazil’s 80 percent Amazon deforestation reduction target would be met by 2016, four years earlier than planned.
The president said the new policies for the sustainable development of the Amazon, under the Plan for Amazon Deforestation Prevention and Control, led to the big drop in deforestation.
It combined the use of their satellite technology analysis, sectoral cooperation in the banning of the commercialization of soy grown in the Amazon and the creation of protected areas.
The government also introduced macro-zoning in the rainforest. This initiative divides the legal Amazon region into 10 zones and specifies what activity can be done in each zone. It also halts expansion of agriculture and cattle, recovers degraded land for agribusiness and establishes a national monetary committee that will set financing rules for rural and agro-industrial activities.
The announcements are considered a welcome development in the light of the ongoing Cancun climate conference, about which Mr. Lula expressed disappointment on the absence of major heads of state. The president said the Cancun climate talks will not achieve results because of this, according to media reports.
The president expressed the same disappointment about the limited cooperation of more powerful countries last year in Copenhagen. He was then appealing for financial support on Amazon conservation.
“We are committed to advancing the reduction in deforestation, improving monitoring and creating the conditions for sustainable development in the region. We are doing our homework and the world needs to respond accordingly,” said Brazil’s environment minister Izabella Teixeira.