Deforestation rates in the Brazilian Amazon declined 14 percent from August 2009 to July 2010, reaching the lowest rates ever recorded for the second consecutive year, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced in Brasília. Satellite images analysed by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) show that an estimated 6,450 square kilometers of forests were cleared in the 12-month period, bringing rates to their lowest since monitoring started in 1988.
The record-breaking decrease represents a major contribution to reducing Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions, as global negotiations progress at the 16th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP16), currently underway in Cancun, Mexico.
“We are fulfilling the commitment we have made in Brazil. We will fulfill it because it’s our obligation to do so,” said President Lula. He also announced new integrated policies to promote sustainable development in the Amazon region, alongside the first results from Brazil’s deforestation monitoring system in the Atlantic Forest. “We are committed to advancing the reduction in deforestation, improving monitoring and creating the conditions for sustainable development in the region,” said Minister of Environment Izabella Teixeira.
According to the Ministry of Environment, the successive drops in Amazon deforestation rates are a result of the Plan for Amazon Deforestation Prevention and Control (PPCDAM), an integrated set of integrated government policies that combine enhanced satellite monitoring and enforcement operations with land tenure regularization, alongside initiatives to encourage sustainable activities in the region. With the support of 13 government agencies, PPCDAM was instrumental in helping to reduce deforestation in the Amazon by 76.8 percent from 2004 to 2010.
Satellite images analysed by INPE’s near-real time deforestation detection system (DETER) have enabled the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA), with support from the Federal Police, to set up precise and effective enforcement operations to halt illegal deforestation as it happens.
NASA images reveal disappearing mangroves worldwide
In August 2010, NASA and the US Geological Survey released the first-ever satellite analysis of the world’s mangrove ecosystems. They found that mangroves covered 12.3% less area than previously estimated. Now, NASA has released images of the world’s mangrove ecosystems, which currently cover 137,760 square kilometers. Yet this number keeps shrinking: mangroves are vanishing rapidly due to rising sea levels, deforestation for coastal developments, agriculture and aquaculture.
Among the world’s most important ecosystems, mangroves are tropical saline-adapted forests that survive in tropical coastlines. These forests serve as nurseries for a variety marine fish, underpinning global fisheries and providing additional food for coastal communities. In addition, they store massive amounts of carbon and act as buffers against marine erosion. Recent studies have even found that mangroves buffer human populations and property against tropical storms. Yet despite their importance, less than 7% of the world’s mangroves are under legal protection.
Source: PR Newswire