How deforestation in Brazil keeps slowing down


I wrote about it before : deforestation in the Brazilian part of the Amazon rainforest – aka the lungs of Earth – decreased by no less than 46 percent and is at record low levels in the past two decades.

These are surely good news as deforestation is a predominant part in Brazilian greenhouse gases emissions. TreeHugger explains how this was achieved, partly thanks to satellites.

As a science fiction fan I like it when space technology helps solving Earth matters. This isn’t the first time it happens.

But back to Brazil, here is an extract of the full article :

Between 2000 and 2008, the Amazon rainforest lost an average of 18,786 km² annually; last year, that number was down to 7,464 km² last year — evidence of a shift in tactics.

Ten years ago, says Evaristo, IBAMA was “looking blindly for deforestation,” with “no tools” to catch deforestation operations before it was too late.

Even simple factors like cloud cover would make monitoring parts of the Amazon virtually impossible, and those cutting down the trees knew that.

Since then, advances in technology and better enforcement methods have changed the way IBAMA operates. A recently launched satellite, developed with the help of the Chinese, allows the enforcement agency to peer through clouds, greatly enhancing their monitoring ability.

Every 15 days, IBAMA receives new satellite imagery showing the latest spots where deforestation is taking place, allowing officers to close down such operations much more quickly than they could before.

(…) Those caught illegally deforesting their land, usually farmers and ranchers making room for cattle or crops, can now expect a harder hit to their pocketbooks. Instead of only imposing fines, now enforcement agents seek to “decapitalize the crime,” says Evaristo.

Deforesting cattle ranchers can now expect to have their livestock seized, while farmers’ crops will be forced to rot in the ground. Those caught with illegal timber operations, too, may be squeezed out of business; IBAMA posts the names of those landowners on their Web site for the world to see.

“[Their] days are numbered,” the director of IBAMA promises. “Zero illegal deforestation is possible.”

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