Latest update: 16/11/2009
Brazil's battle with deforestation
This week : A trip to the heart of the Amazon to see the progress being made in the fight against deforestation and the problems that persist.
By Eve IRVINE
In just a few weeks Brazil is due to report on its progress in the battle against deforestation at high level climate change talks in Copenhagen. ENVIRONMENT travels to the heart of the Amazon to get an insiders look at what changes are in fact taking place.
Visiting the Sakara community, less than a two hour boat trip from the Amazonas capital Manaus, ENVIRONMENT looks at the ‘bolsa floresta’, or forest bursary. This is a scheme whereby locals are being paid to respect their environment and not to cut down trees. Some 32 families at this reserve are the latest group to sign up. Each family that joins the project receives 50 reais a month, the equivalent of roughly 20 euros.
However, while they recognise the need to address climate change, and indeed protect their environment from destruction from outsiders- it is clear here that the transition isn’t easy with many villagers saying that without wood they are struggling to make ends meet.
The Brazilian government has set itself the target of slowing deforestation by 80% by 2020. Official figures show a record drop in the process from July 2008 to August 2009.
Cattle ranches are the biggest culprits of tree felling and last year authorities started to confiscate cattle raised on newly cleared land. Now, in the county of Paragominas, the farmers union wants to go green by eradicating deforestation.
A Brazilian cattle rancher in the Eastern Amazon is claiming that intensive grazing is the answer to stopping deforestation. By using a rotating grazing system for his cows, Mauro Lucio Costa, manages to stay within Brazilian law, which says all farms in the Amazon must preserve 80% of the forest, all the while producing more beef per hectare than other farms in the area.
Finally ENVIRONMENT brings you to Manaus, the capital of the Amazonas state. The population of the city quintupled in the space of three decades and with no urban planning in place to welcome newcomers they set up homes on the banks of the tributaries of the Rio Negro. The result today is pungent polluted waterways that run across the capital.