A new study finds that illegal logging, coupled with weak state-run timber licensing systems, has led to massive timber harvesting fraud in Brazil, resulting in huge illicit harvests of Ipê trees. Ipê wood is largely shipped to the U.S. and Europe with the high value (up to $2,500 per cubic meter at export). Buyers all along the timber supply chain turn a blind eye toward fraud, with sawmills, exporters, and importers trusting the paperwork they receive, rather than questioning whether the lower prices they pay for Ipê and other timber may be due to timber laundering. This process is doing major damage to the Amazon. To reduce document fraud, the Brazilian federal government required that all states register or integrate their timber licensing systems within a national timber inventory and tracking system known as Sinaflor. While this should reduce fraudulent paperwork, better oversight of forest management plans and more onsite inspections of timber operations are needed also.
British fast food restaurants and grocery chains, including Tesco, Morrisons and McDonald’s, buy their chicken from Cargill, which feeds its poultry with imported soy, much of it apparently coming from the Bolivian Amazon and Brazilian Cerrado — areas rapidly being deforested for new soy plantations. Retailers have so far not used their leverage over Cargill to compel it to support a soy moratorium expansion.
Brazil’s government has abolished a vast national reserve in the Amazon to open up the area to mining. The size of the area will be open to mining is about 30% of Renca which is larger than Denmark. Although the government confirmed the nine conservation and indigenous land areas within it would continue to be legally protected, activists worried that these areas could be badly compromised.
Hivos and Greenpeace Netherlands, together with indigenous groups from the Amazon rainforest, are launching a new campaign against deforestation called ‘All eyes on the Amazon’. Studies show that indigenous communities living in rainforests are crucial to the sustainable protection of these areas. This programme will aim to give indigenous communities the tools, knowledge and contacts to combat deforestation. It will also use satellite technology and drone photography to give indigenous groups evidence of the deforestation that is occurring.
The Brazilian government has revised upward its estimate for the extent of Amazon rainforest destroyed last year. Figures released last week by Brazil’s National Space Research Agency (INPE) put Amazon deforestation at 6,207 square kilometres for the year ended July 31, 2015. That represents an increase of 6.5 percent relative to the estimate of 5,831 square kilometres published last December.
A recent analysis by Monitoring the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP) finds that deforestation is pressing further into a protected area in central Peru. Located in central Peru's Amazon rainforest, El Sira is home to several indigenous groups, as well as endangered species found nowhere else and surrounded by deforestation for cropland, cattle pasture, and gold mining. According to the analysis, these activities have invaded the northern portion of El Sira reserve, with 1,600 hectares of forest cleared since 2013.
Imazon, a group that tracks forest trends in Brazil, released data suggesting deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon may be on the rise after years of remaining at historic lows. The data shows that the deforestation during the month of June 2016 is the highest level recorded in a single month since November 2007. Forest clearing in Brazil often rises in dry years and when the national currency is weak, which makes agricultural exports more profitable. Currently, both conditions are present in Brazil. INPE, Brazil’s national satellite agency, provides official deforestation quarterly. The rise of deforestation trend in Brazil could be further confirmed after both INPE and Imazon release data next month.
According to NASA’s Amazon fire forecast, the Amazon basin is now facing driest season due to the reduced rainfall during the wet season, which means the wildfire from July to October is at the highest risk. The forecast model is developed by scientists at the University of California (UC-Irvine) in 2011, which links sea surface temperatures and fire activity. Now scientists at NASA and UC-Irvine have been working with officials of South American and scientists to make them aware of these data and their implications.
Researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the UK analysed data from 824 harvest areas in private and community-owned forests scattered throughout the 123 million hectare Brazilian state of Para, which is the source of almost half of all timber production in the Brazilian Amazon. The results demonstrate that it is crucial to manage yields of selectively-logged forests for the long-term health of forest biodiversity as well as the financial viability of local industries. The analysis shows that even so-called ‘reduced-impact logging’ in tropical forests can rarely be defined as sustainable in terms of forest composition and dynamics in the aftermath logging.
Greenpeace have released a publication outlining the economic exploitation issues of the Amazon rainforest and is demanding that the Brazilian government cancel hydropower projects such as the São Luiz do Tapajós (SLT) dam. This dam alone is expected to cause 2,200km2 of deforestation and to drown 400km2 of rainforest. Previous projects have led to huge habitats being wiped out causing significant impacts on the populations of fish, aquatic reptiles and the life cycles of local mammals.
The Ebenezer-Macuma-Taisha highway promised change and work opportunities. By now, only three more miles need to be paved along the Ebenezer-Macuma-Taisha highway in order to finish it. But the federal government suddenly turned against the project, arguing that the road project doesn't follow the technical and environmental norms, and as it is, it affects the water, soil, and vegetation in the area. Meanwhile, the environment ministry will design a management plan for the Kutukú-Shaimi Protected Forest.
Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP) discovered a sharp deforestation increase in the lower Las Piedras River area, which is in the far west Amazon rainforest of the Madre de Dios region of Southern Peru. This area is considered as an incredibly biodiverse area. The headwater of Las Piedras River is protected, however, the lower remains under threat largely due to the controversial Trans-Amazon highway, which brought loggers, hunters, gold miners, and settlers.
A report on the activities of the Association of Forest Communities of Petén (ACOFOP) in Guatemala show the positive potential impact of community based forest management. The members of ACOFOP include small furniture manufacturers sell products approved by the Rainforest Alliance.
The article refers to a report published last month by the World Resources Institute which investigated both the Guatemalan concessions and a similar model found in Brazil’s indigenous communities in the Amazon. The WRI estimated that Guatemala stood to benefit up to $800 million over the next two decades through community management of forest concessions.
The Amazonian Network of Georeferenced Socio-Environmental Information (RAISG) published a report showing the deforestation between 2010 and 2013 declined sharply across the Amazon basin. This is the first time the change in primary forest in the Amazon outside of Brazil is documented. Unlike Brazil, which owns advanced monitoring system, forest data from non-Brazilian countries are much less reported before. The report also includes a detailed deforestation map.
While deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has fallen sharply over the past decade, a larger share of forest loss is now being driven by smallholders who are more difficult to control, posing new challenges for the Brazilian government.
Rivers create species. For animals incapable of swimming through or flying over them--like most primates--large rivers can quickly become insurmountable barriers. One of the most famous examples of this evolutionary phenomenon is chimpanzees and bonobos, which are only separated by the Congo River. Now, scientists have discovered a new primate that also appears to follow this rule, blocked off from his cousins by a confluence of rivers in the Peruvian Amazon.
Satellite data analysis suggests deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon may have reached a 7-year high. Imazon, a Belém-based non-profit, released data showing deforestation in the region pacing ahead of the previous year’s level for 13 months consecutively. The 12-month moving average of short-term deforestation alert data has reached levels that have not been seen since 2008. This hasn’t yet been confirmed by the Brazilian government who now report statistics quarterly for its deforestation system, but recent figures released by INPE mirror this data.
Imazon’s newest study shows that, between August 2012 and July 2014, 90% deforestation in Brazilian Amazon happened in protected areas, while 10% occurred outside protected areas. During the two years’ period, forest loss was heavily concentrated in areas where infrastructure was expanding and management plans and funding were lacking. The study also recommends possible measures to against the deforestation, including law enforcement, eviction of non-traditional settlers from illegally occupied forests, and state resettlement schemes, etc.
Archer Daniels Midland, the third largest global supplier of agricultural commodities and one of the world’s leading soy traders, is launching their Responsible Soy Standard. Under this new programme, yearly assessments will be conducted by expert third parties to determine if growers are complying with a number of environmental, legal, social and agronomic standards.
Despite soy production acting as a leading driver of deforestation across South America, palm oil has remained the priority commodity for companies in the fight against deforestation. While 117 private companies have pledged to reduce the impact of their involvement with palm oil, only 27 have done the same with soy. It is hoped that ADM’s commitment could lead to other organisations following their lead and expanding their commitments to deforestation across commodities.
Experts have warned, however, that although commitments like these have led to deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, the problem is simply being moved elsewhere. Much of the conversion of natural ecosystems for soy cultivation now occurs in other areas including Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay.
Researchers have said that deforestation of the Amazon in March has almost tripled compared to March 2014. Imazon, a Brazilian non-profit research institution, say that 22 square miles of forest have been removed across the Amazon region in March, compared to 7.7 square miles in March 2014. Three quarters of the cleared forest was focused in Mato Grosso, where part of the Pantanal wetlands are found. These figures by Imazon differ to those of the Brazilian government who suggested that deforestation had actually fallen by 18% across the nine states forming the Amazon basin.