Brazil Claims Amazon Deforestation 'Halved'
The Brazilian government has announced that the rate of Amazonian deforestation has been halved (2)over the past year - from some 18,000 sq km to 9,000 sq km - due to recent policy initiatives on their part, including a crack down on illegal logging. Though this is a crude estimate over a very short period of time, if this tentative trend were to be confirmed, consolidated and built upon, it could portend well for the future of the Amazon.
A few observations are in order. There has recently been a downturn in agricultural commodity prices, which surely accounts for much of the slowdown in deforestation. Unless the Brazilian government uses this opportunity to place reasonable restrictions upon agri-business, such as enforcing a ban on deforestation of primary rainforests for soya production, these gains will prove illusory. Further, illegal logging was combated literally by the military for two months during this deforestation slowdown. It remains to be seen whether there has been a permanent disruption of illegal logging, or whether they are just "biding their time".
It must be noted that even a 50% reduction in deforestation extended over a period of time would not prove adequate to save the Amazon as a large, operable global ecosystem. Greater reductions and a reversal in deforestation rates over much longer periods of time are required to save the Earth's greatest rainforest. But these tentative deforestation figures do appear to indicate that when the Brazilian government gets serious about reducing deforestation, they can have an impact - at least in the short term.