28 Nov 2014

Brazil's one-sided deforestation policies

Rob H writes:*

The deforestation of the Amazon is a great threat to biodiversity, local peoples' livelihoods and the planet's carbon balance. While from 2005 to 2013 the efforts to reduce the rate of deforestation have been successful (pdf), the problem is still far from being solved. The recent slowing of deforestation is largely due to increased efforts from the Brazilian government to monitor and regulate the production of beef and land use. State and municipal forest conservation policies have been implemented since 2004. Satellite monitoring has been improved. Local authorities revoke farming licenses when illegal deforestation is detected. Furthermore the beef industry has been forced to reduce waste in production and transport.

These policies have greatly reduced the rate of deforestation, but they do not mean the problem is solved. Overlapping regional borders, unclear regulations and lots of paperwork have raised compliance costs to ranchers who may move to less regulated lands or crops. Brazil is encouraging investment in agriculture by offering $41 billion of cheap production credits to farmers (palm oil planting is growing rapidly), thereby exposing the weakness of a system aimed mainly at beef production.

Bottom Line: Brazil should regulate other deforestation drivers if it is going to avoid a costly game of cat and mouse in which some farmers bear high costs while land degradation continues.

* Please comment on these posts from my environmental economics students, to help them with unclear analysis, other perspectives, data sources, etc.

1 comment:

Theresa said...

The topic you bring up in your blog post is indeed important. Brazil´s biggest cities in the Southeast are at the moment experiencing a very severe water crisis that, as some scientists argue, is highly related to the deforestation of the Amazon and other forests like the Mata Atlantica in the country (when considering deforestation of the Amazon it is interesting to take into account that all off Brazil´s land area used to be covered by tropical forests and that the vast majority of it has been cut down since colonization started).
This direct effect of deforestation on the lives of many Brazilian citizens increases environmental awareness that has been very low in Brazil. There is no strong green party and the pressure some civil society organizations have on influencing politics is very weak. Due to this missing awareness of environmental problems throughout the whole population, the government however also does not have incentives to focus on environmental issues. Instead, they focus un economic growth and social programs directed at decreasing inequality in the country, a very popular political agenda. Rousseff herself said that concern for the environment only comes after concern for economic growth, which explains why better policies and regulations to stop deforestation, like the ones you propose, are not being developed and enforced.

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