Amazon Rainforest Loss Skyrockets: Global & Regional Emergency
The rate at which Brazil's rainforests are disappearing has leapt by 40 per cent
in a single year. This follows several years of marginal declines. In the year to
August 2002, an area the size of Belgium was lost. There are plenty of
explanations and blame to go around. As we have highlighted previously, a
major new threat is the clearance of primary rain forests to grow soy beans -
largely for industrial cattle feed in Europe.
Given this terrible global ecological news, there has been a scramble to be seen
as defining and beginning to implement solutions. The Brazilian government
promises to announce new measures shortly. Meanwhile WWF has provided a
list of reasonable policy responses. All but one of their suggestions is
reasonable. However, their goal of 12% protection for the Amazon is
woefully inadequate, and threatens the ecological sustainability of the Amazon
and the Earth.
The Amazon basin drives global climatic cycles, harbors most of the World's life
forms, and is a major component of the biogeophysical processes that make
the Earth habitable. On what basis and authority does WWF acquiesce to losing
over 85% of the Amazon, in the process fragmenting and making it ecologically
impotent? Is this how much is needed for bioregional ecological sustainability?
Or is this what is easily achieved so WWF can claim victory, gather cash, grow
the empire and move on? What is the basis for lobbying to protect only 12% of
the largest largely intact rainforest? I await a response.
My immediate suggestions: 1) Europe and the World must be called upon to end
rainforest destruction subsidies by discontinuing soya and other agricultural
imports from areas previously covered in primary forests; 2) Brazil must
commit to placing under strict protection as "Global Ecological Reserves" over
50% of the Amazon in large core areas that are connected - sustainable
development should be practiced in surrounding buffers; 3) and a major and
sustained international program of financial and technical assistance to Brazil to
support protection and conservation management of the Amazon is needed.
Brazil and neighboring countries have a global responsibility to commit to
protecting the Amazon as a Planetary ecological marvel. The rest of the World
has an equal or greater responsibility to commitment to pay - and pay well in
perpetuity - for them to do so. The Earth and society as we know it will not
survive loss of the Amazon as a functional whole.