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Brazil Plans to Help Other Countries Fight Amazon Deforestation

Ministra do Meio Ambiente Izabella Teixeira (centro)

Brazilian minister for the Environment Izabella Teixeira (center) presents at COP 20 a help plan to the other countries of the Amazon. Photo by Gustavo Faleiros.

Gustavo Faleiros, editor-in-chief at InfoAmazônia, a partner of Global Voices, is in Lima covering the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 20).

Brazil's more than 30 years experience in fighting deforestation will be replicated in the other Amazon countries. In Lima, Peru, during the 20th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 20), the Brazilian government and the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) presented a plan to implement monitoring systems in partnership with the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (OCTA).

According to OTCA's secretary-general, Surinamese Robby Dewnarain Ramlakhan, an investment of US$8 million is already ongoing through the Amazon Fund, a reserve of US$800 million managed by BNDES to support projects in Brazil and other countries throughout the Amazon.

Those resources are not reimbursable, that is to say, they are not loans. Announced in an event attended by the Brazilian and Peruvian delegations, the project plans to create observation rooms of satellite data, train 150 technicians and purchase surveillance equipment for the other seven member countries of OTCA.

Additionally, the initiative intends to draw a historic map of the Amazon forest in all of its extension covering the period between 2000 and 2010. Unlike Brazil, which has been monitoring deforestation since 1988, the other countries are still building up their historic database on the forest. OTCA will replicate the methodology already used by the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research, responsible for calculating the official deforestation rate in the Brazilian Amazon.

“Each country has its particularities. Peru has 90 percent of its deforestation in areas with less than one hectare, which are hard to monitor,” said Gustavo Suarez, coordinator of Peru's National Forest Program. In Brazil, most deforestation occurs in large areas (see the deforestation map below).

Forests in recovery

Also on Wednesday, the Brazilian Minister for the Environment Izabella Teixeira made a speech in the conference's plenary and again praised Brazil's actions to reduce deforestation. She mentioned the last numbers announced by the government — a decrease of 18 percent in 2014 — as evidence of Brazil's commitment with reduction of greenhouse gases emissions.

Land use change (forest fires, deforestation) are still the main source of greenhouse gases emissions in Brazil. The constant reduction in deforestation puts the country in a comfortable position with the climate negotiations — the UN is currently trying to draft a new agreement to mitigate causes and effects of global warming. Next year, in Paris (COP 21), the signing of another treaty with new targets, to go into effect in 2020, is expected.

“Not only have the deforestation rates been reduced by 82% in the last 10 years, but we are also observing a substantial process of forest regeneration,” the minister said. She referred to information released a few weeks back by the TerraClass system from INPE, which reveled that 23 percent of the lands deforested in the Amazon have woods in recovery. “This shows that Brazil has ceased to emit 650 million tons of carbon per year”. 

Interactive map of deforestation in the Amazon — data by INPE (Prodes system) and Terra-i system

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