Amazon forest destruction accelerates

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 04 Aug 2011

Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon accelerated in June, with more than 300 square kilometers destroyed, a 17 percent increase over the previous month, government researchers said Tuesday.

Massive deforestation has made Brazil one of the world's top greenhouse gas emitters

The National Institute for Space Research (INPE) said 312.6 square kilometers (120 square miles) were destroyed in June, based on the preliminary analysis of satellite photos of the vast South American rainforest.

May had seen a decrease in deforestation to 268 square kilometers (100 square miles) from 477 square kilometers (180 square miles) in April.

In April, more than 400 square kilometers (150 square miles) of forests were destroyed in a single state, Mato Grosso, which is seen as a major agricultural frontier and is used for cattle ranches and soybean farming.

At the 2009 UN climate change summit in Copenhagen, Brazil committed itself to reducing Amazon deforestation by 80 percent by 2020.

Brazil, the world’s fifth largest country by area, has 5.3 million square kilometers of jungle and forests — mostly in the Amazon river basin — of which only 1.7 million are under state protection.

The rest is in private hands, or its ownership is undefined.

Massive deforestation has made Brazil one of the world’s top greenhouse gas emitters, and the pace of deforestation peaked in 2004 at 27,000 square kilometers (10,000 square miles) a year.

By 2010, however, it had dropped to 6,500 square kilometers, thanks in part to the INPE’s Real-Time Deforestation Detection System (DETER), which allows researchers to collect new satellite images on a daily basis.

However, the system can only monitor areas of 25 hectares (60 acres) or more, so its results are not considered definitive.


Temporary reprieve for Amazon deforestation

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 30 June 2010

A Brazilian parliament special committee has delayed a vote on a proposal which would dramatically increase the areas of the Amazon that could be legally cleared.

Amazon Rainforest

The Special Committee on Forest Law Changes is now scheduled to vote on the proposal – which would cut back forest preservation requirements on private land and reduce Federal controls on deforestation – until next week.

Discussions today were not expected to result in any significant changes to the report before the Special Committee.

Pundits quip that the timing of the vote will be influenced by the Brazilian team’s prospects in the football World Cup.

Scientists, WWF and other environmental, community and indigenous organisations have been warning that the proposed changes being advocated by the so-called “ruralist bloc” – supported by landowners and agribusiness – could see Brazil returning to the high deforestation rates that once horrified the world.

Conservative calculations also estimate that the deforestation unleashed by the changes will be several times the emissions reductions promised by Brazil – and which were to be mainly delivered by further reductions in deforestation.

The cutbacks in forest cover requirements for stream and river banks and steep and vulnerable land will also make Brazil more vulnerable to extreme weather related floods and land slips, WWF has warned.

Source: WWF

World’s plants and animals at risk of collapse

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 11 May 2010

Far too many of the world’s plants and animals — and the wild places that support them — are at risk of collapse, a U.N. report finds, despite a global goal set in 2002 for major improvement by this year.

Frogs and other amphibians are most at risk of extinction.

Frogs and other amphibians are most at risk of extinction, coral reefs are the species deteriorating most rapidly and the survival of nearly a quarter of all plant species is threatened, the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity said Monday in a report issued every four years.

The outlook on the planet’s ecological diversity and health is produced under a 1993 treaty since joined by most of the world’s nations. It says the planet is falling short of its goal to achieve by this year “a significant reduction in the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national levels.”

Pollution, climate change, drought, deforestation, illegal poaching and overfishing are among the many culprits named.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warns in the report that the consequences of “this collective failure” will be severe for everyone on the planet if it is not quickly corrected.

“We must give it higher priority in all areas of decision-making and in all economic sectors,” he says. “Conserving biodiversity cannot be an afterthought once other objectives are addressed — it is the foundation on which many of these objectives are built.”

The U.N. had declared 2010 would be the “International Year of Biodiversity,” seeking to raise awareness.

But the report provides extremely dire projections of the state of biodiversity globally, such as the loss of huge areas of the Amazon rainforest and many fresh water lakes. Continue reading