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.