Satellites have cut deforestation in Brazil

Satellites and aerial monitoring have cut deforestation in Brazil. The Amazon can now breathe a sigh of relief, but loggers haven’t give up.

Brazil has taken and is still taking big steps to contain illegal logging and save the Amazon, one of the Earth’s most important natural areas. Deforestation rates dropped by nearly 80% over 8 years, passing from an average of 27,000 square kilometres in 2004 to 5,000 in 2012. A significant result achieved thanks to laws strengthening, enforcement and monitoring. More precisely, the satellite accomplishment seemed to be the most effective, since it forced loggers to become “invisible” or to find other ways to carry out their crimes.




This is the reason why, in parallel, small scale deforestation of patches smaller than 25 hectares (i.e. 15-20 soccer fields) has increased involving 25 to 50% of these areas. Such data emerge from a research carried out by the Climate Policy Initiative and the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.




“It is clear that Brazil’s efforts to curb deforestation are working,” said Juliano Assunção, the study’s author and a professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro. “Our study shows, though, that there are still challenges. We need to step up forest protection strategies on smaller tracts of land.”




Researchers have focused their activities in the states of Mato Grosso and Para. Variations registered have encouraged concluding that deforestation is not a homogeneous problem and cannot be faced univocally. However, positive figures emerged. Brazil has cut CO2 emissions by 41% between 2005 and 2012, especially thanks to a decrease in deforestation rates, and President Dilma Rousseff promised 120,000 square kilometres in reforestation. Ultimate goal: zero deforestation within 2025.

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