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Cutting down on Amazon deforestation: Watch, think, and act
Thursday, 2015/01/22 | 08:16:52

CIAT 10 December, 2014 by Stefanie Neno (comments)

Reducing deforestation in the Amazon is possible – Brazil has done it. Now it’s the turn of other Amazon countries to do something. With Terra-i and other Global Forest Watch contributors, let’s start by monitoring land cover changes in the region to better pinpoint drivers of deforestation and formulate appropriate responses.


Between 2004 and 2011, Brazil reduced deforestation rates in the Amazon by 77%, thus decreasing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by more than a third. This is an all-time record. No country had ever been able to cut down emissions so drastically over a similar period, including reductions in transportation, energy and all other sectors.


That reduction in deforestation also had enormous positive conservation benefits for biodiversity, water, soil, and other environmental services.


However, 40% of the Amazon rainforest lies outside Brazil, shared between Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Surinam, Guyana and French Guiana. So what’s going on in those countries?


Well, the picture does not look so good. According to CIAT’s experts, while deforestation rates went down in Brazil, they increased in other Amazon countries, with a rise in their combined contribution to Amazon deforestation from 8-15% around 2005 to 23-30% in 2011.


While the effect of the global economic crisis on demand for commodities certainly helped curb deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, a combination of targeted interventions really made the difference. Similar policies and programs are necessary in other Amazonian countries to achieve the same kind of results.


These include for example commodity moratoriums in the same vein as Brazil’s soy and beef moratoriums, law enforcement actions and effective threats of prosecution, government policy, low emissions land-use change, the strengthening of protected areas, broad international donor support for programs to reduce emissions, and better forest monitoring.


Since April 2014, Peru has adopted CIAT’s Terra-i as an early warning system to monitor land cover and land-use change.


Terra-i detects land-cover changes resulting from human activities in near real-time and currently covers all of Latin America. It showed that between 2004 and 2011 the region of Madre de Dios in Peru lost almost 30,000 hectares of natural vegetative cover. More recent imagery shows that deforestation continued to extend after 2011 in relation to gold mining (see image below). Terra-i also registered alarming deforestation rates in the Provinces of Manu and Tambopata, where mining activities have expanded considerably since 2005 due to the continuous surge in gold prices.- See more at:




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