Map of the 50 most deforested Conservation Units of the Amazon rainforest between 2012 and 2015. Graphic: Imazon

By E. Araújo, P. Barreto, S. Baima, and M. Gomes [Translation by Google.]
26 March 2017

(Imazon) – Conservation Units (CUs) cover 22% of the Amazon forest and are an effective strategy to conserve animals, plants and environmental services, contain deforestation and maintain the planet's climate balance. However, deforestation rates in PAs have been increasing - in 2015 it already surpassed that of 2012 by 79% - as well as its participation in total Amazon deforestation, which increased from 6% in 2008 to 12% in 2015. As a consequence of deforestation Of 237.3 thousand hectares in protected areas (PAs) between 2012 and 2015, equivalent to R$344 million in appropriate lands, approximately 136 million trees were destroyed, causing the death or displacement of approximately 4.2 million birds and 137 thousand monkeys . In addition, we estimate that the burning of vegetation in this deforested area has emitted 119 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year - which compares to 80% of Brazil's car fleet emissions in September 2016; And that this deforestation generated a gross income of R $ 300 million from the sale of timber (standing timber value), creating a huge investment potential in deforestation.

In this context, we identified the 50 most deforested PAs between 2012 and 2015 in the Amazon forest, which represent only 16% of the total PAs in the region. Together, they lost 229,900 hectares of forest, that is, 97% of the area cleared in PAs between 2012 and 2015. These critical PAs in deforestation are in the area of ​​expansion of the agricultural frontier and under the influence of infrastructure projects, such as highways , Waterways, ports and hydroelectric. The states of Pará and Rondônia concentrated most of the deforestation detected in the period, 49.8% and 38.9%, respectively. The federal UCs are in higher number in the ranking (27), but the state ones presented greater deforested area (68%).

The top 10 ranking positions accounted for 79% of the deforested total within the Amazon forest CUs between 2012 and 2015 and 82% of the total deforested in the ranking. The Environmental Protection Areas (APA) occupy five of the top 10 positions. They aim to reconcile human occupation with environmental protection, but this is not possible without management. Among the state UCs, we highlight the APA Triunfo do Xingu, which is the most deforested UC of the Amazon forest. Among federal UCs, Flona Jamanxim is the most deforested and is in 3rd place in the ranking.

The vulnerability of these areas stems from systemic failures of public power, which has a duty to protect them. Among these vulnerabilities, we highlight: i) the government's erratic and limited strategy, which consists of changing rules and weakening environmental legislation according to current interests and tolerating illegal deforestation by 2030; Ii) the scarce human resources for management and the worrying trend of reduction in the number of federal environmental analysts crowded in the Amazon, 40% in ICMBio (2010-2016) and 33% in Ibama (2009-2015); Iii) insufficient financial resources to carry out the necessary investments to implement the UCs - only the 16 federal CUs critical of this study would need R $ 10.6 million annually, a figure 3.26 times higher than the average investment resources of ICMBio Between 2014 and 2016 for the whole country and 3.42 times greater than that projected for 2017; Iv) inefficiency in execution, which is revealed by the low availability of available financial resources. For example, between 2009 and 2014, ICMBio executed only 35% of the R $ 218 million received for environmental compensation; In slowness in combating irregular occupations, which causes environmental and social damages; And the low punishment of environmental criminals and landowners.

Deforestation rates in the Legal Amazon Conservation Units between 2008 and 2015 and their share (%) in total deforestation in the region. Graphic: Imazon

In order to eliminate deforestation and ensure effective protection of these areas in the long term, it will be necessary to build a consistent strategy, to provide human and financial resources and to improve the effectiveness of their implementation. But it is unlikely that the leadership to carry out these tasks comes in isolation from the public power, since part of it clearly acts against the public interest. The protection and sustainable use of PAs will also require vigorous and ongoing involvement of various sectors of society, the private sector, and the international community. There is potential for stronger involvement in conservation in Brazil, as 91% of Brazilians favor forest conservation and another 91% of Brazilians are proud of the country, motivated to a large extent by riches and natural beauty. We conclude by exploring opportunities for this engagement around three goals:

Ensure immediate protection of the most critical areas and their populations. It is necessary to protect the local populations of the Amazon, such as indigenous and rubber tappers, who have fought and fight for the creation and maintenance of protected areas. Several actors, besides the police, could contribute to this. Social and environmental NGOs, governments and international and national donors could increase support for these populations and the implementation of the areas based on the experiences of PPG7 (G7 Rainforest Protection Program) and Arpa (Amazon Protected Areas Program), which The creation of tens of millions of hectares of protected areas in the Amazon. In addition, they could also support the long-term implementation of UCs, as Arpa aims to do. Religious leaders and their followers could step up support for conservation based on Pope Francis's Encyclical Letter, which calls for forest conservation as part of the effort to care for the common home (the planet). Military forces could intensify their action in the fight against deforestation and the grilagem of public lands in the areas of greater conflict. In addition, the Public Prosecutor's Office and the Audit Courts could hold public administrators accountable for reducing the area or degree of protection of UCs to meet the demands of squatters squatting public assets based on the Law of Responsibility of the President of the Republic And of the Ministers of State and in the Administrative Improbity Law.

Block the demand and financing of illegal deforestation. There is a need to increase the pressure on businesses to improve and expand their commitment to sustainability. To this end, the Public Ministry and environmental agencies could increase the liability of companies that buy products from illegally deforested areas and those that finance such activities; Could also monitor the implementation of Resolution No. 4,327 / 2014, which requires financial institutions to establish and implement the Social and Environmental Responsibility Policy (PRSA). NGO campaigns and investigative reporting on law-breaking companies could strengthen such accountability actions and protect companies that comply with laws and agreements from unfair competition. In addition to boycotting illegal production, it is essential to stimulate sustainable production in areas already deforested outside UCs. However, public credit directed exclusively to the most sustainable practices in Brazil (ABC Program - low carbon agriculture) will account for only 1.6% of the country's total rural credit in the 2016- 2017 Safra Plan. But the financial sector could help Expand the scale of sustainable production initiatives by engaging more strongly with governments, producers and supply chain partners (such as traders, refrigerators, supermarket chains) to identify opportunities and remove barriers.

Ensure the long-term sustainability of Conservation Units. Several approaches could sustain conservation in the long run. Involvement will tend to be stronger when involving sensory and emotional experiences, such as tourism, educational expeditions, artistic and sporting events. Such activities could strengthen the regional economy and create a virtuous cycle - CUs would increase tourism which, in turn, would increase the desire to conserve. It is estimated that tourism in UCs already moves approximately R $ 4 billion per year, generates 43 thousand jobs and adds R $ 1.5 billion to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Such an approach could bring together environmental, cultural and commercial interests, similar to the US experience with the creation of national parks. In addition to local benefits, scientific research shows that conserving the Amazon is strategic for the country's development because of its contributions to rainfall that supply agriculture, hydroelectric and industrial consumption in the southern center of the country. To engage national leaders who are unaware of the Amazon, scientists, educators and other professionals could develop programs that combine the presentation of scientific evidence about the Amazon with sensory and emotional experiences through field visits and other media (shows, movies, etc.).

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Unidades de Conservação mais desmatadas da Amazônia Legal (2012-2015)

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