Brazil’s Amazon Protection Plan
Brazil President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva outlined (June 5) the details of a government-wide plan to meet a previous goal of achieving net-zero deforestation of the Amazon by 2030.
Among the plan’s key elements:
Increasing forest monitoring by law enforcement and conservation units, including through satellite imagery and remote monitoring systems.
Using financial intelligence to track cash movements for logging equipment and excavators used for illegal gold mining.
Creating a tracking system for wood, livestock, and other products to ensure these do not come from deforested lands.
Advancing green economy measures such as the certification of forest products, technical assistance for producers, infrastructure support, energy and internet connection assistance, and the encouragement of ecotourism.
Replanting as much native vegetation as is cut down.
Amazon Protection Fund
The Biden Administration announced a pledge (April 20) for the US to provide $500 million over five years to reduce deforestation in the Amazon.
In 2020, then-Presidential candidate Biden proposed the U.S. mobilize between itself and international partners $20 billion for Amazon protection via the internationally-supported Amazon Fund. The Administration did not follow through on this campaign commitment, however, in part because of the prior Brazilian President’s backtracking on protection commitments and, in turn, major donors such as Germany and Norway suspending support for the effort.
The recently-elected President of Brazil– Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (“Lula”)–promised to greatly improve protection of the Brazilian Amazon, and has been following up with actions to crack down on illegal mining and other illegal activity. He also promised to provide indigenous farmers with credit at low interest rates to encourage crops that regenerate the soil and capture carbon, and also promote sustainable development of Amazonian communities.
As part of the announcement on Amazon funding, the President also committed to double US funding support to the international Green Climate Fund, to $2 billion total. Both this commitment, and funding for the Amazon, are likely to face opposition in the Republican-led House in Congress.
Tongass Forest Protections Returned
In a final rule, the US Forest Service reinstated (January 25) protections across the Tongass rainforest in Southeast Alaska that were withdrawn under a 2020 Roadless Rule of the Trump Administration. That prior rule exempted Tongass from roadless protections.
The nearly 17 million acre Tongass National Forest represents the largest intact tract of coastal temperate rainforest on earth, and is considered critical for carbon sequestration and carbon storage to help mitigate climate change.
Environmentalists believe that preventing roads in the forest will ultimately prevent development and excessive exploitation of forest resources, advance cleaner air and climate change mitigation goals, ensure healthy local waterways, and protect subsistence aquaculture and economic needs (e.g., eco tourism) of local native populations.
Amazon Deforestation in 2022
The INEP National Institute for Space Research is reporting that the first half of 2022 brought record deforestation to the Brazilian Amazon with 1,448 square miles lost between January and June, the largest amount since 2007. More than 2,280 fires were spotted in May, the highest since 2004. Fires spotted in June – 2,500 – were the most seen since 2007, or 11 percent higher than last June.
Deforestation & Major Food Companies
Two major international food companies, Nestle and Unilever, are committing to 100% deforestation-free supply chains for its commodities (e.g., cocoa for chocolate, soy, paper, palm oil, etc.). Unilever claims it is committing to meet this goal by 2023, while Nestle says it is shooting for 2022 for “smaller farmers and large suppliers alike,” though the target for coffee and cocoa extends out to 2025.
Nestle’s approach is tied to its more comprehensive “Forest Positive” strategy released last year which encompasses forest conservation and restoration, the respect of human rights, and “empowering” indigenous populations and local communities to be stewards of ecosystems.
Unilever says that it will focus on transparency and traceability of sourced goods, the prioritization of suppliers, and working closely with farmers and suppliers.
Forest Protection & Management
President Biden issued an Executive Order (EO) on strengthening forests on Earth Day 2022. The EO includes requirements within one year to:
Produce an inventory of old-growth and mature forests on Federal lands.
Develop policies on “climate-smart management and conservation strategies” to address threats to such forests.
Establish a Federal operational goal to meet reforestation targets by 2030;
Develop a plan to increase Federal cone and seed collection capacity to meet anticipated reforestation demand.
Issue a report to the President that includes options and recommendations for a “whole-of-government approach” to combating international deforestation.
Amazon Forest Resilience
A study released by the Global Systems Institute of the University of Exeter and the Technical University of Munich (March 7, 2022) found that the Amazon rainforest may be losing its recovery resilience to fire and drought.
Researchers examined decades of month-to-month data to examine how the Amazon responded to changes in weather conditions. While resiliency appeared to increase during the 1990’s, since that time it has decreased. A tipping point may be near when the Amazon cannot recover from cycles of damage, particularly longer dry seasons and droughts that have become more common and severe with climate change. Both climate change and deforestation were cited by the researchers as the main causes of resiliency changes.
Brazilian amazon rainforest protection began to unravel in 2019 and destruction rapidly between 2020 and 2021. As the BBC reported in November 2021, Brazil's own space agency confirmed that current destruction has been at the worst rate in 15 years. A recent study concluded that Amazonia as a rainforest system could completely collapse within 40-50 years at current rates of destruction.
While the Amazon is not the only important rainforest under threat around the globe, it is likely the single most important system from the standpoint of impact on global warming and the world-wide ecosystem.
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Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITIES) of Wild Fauna and Flora
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITIES) is the current international treaty intended to protect endangered animals and plants. About 5,000 species of animals and 29,000 species of plants are protected by CITES against over-exploitation through international trade.
Status: CITIES entered into force in 1975.