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Wed Apr 17, 2013, 07:11 PM

Deforestation of the Brazilian rainforest down 80% since 2004.

[font size="3"]Since 2004 the rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has fallen nearly 80 percent to the lowest levels recorded since annual record keeping began in the late 1980s[/font]. Importantly, this decline has occurred at the same time that Brazil's economy has grown roughly 40 percent, suggesting a decoupling of economic growth from deforestation.

While this is welcome news for Earth's largest rainforest, it is nonetheless important to understand why more than 580,000 square kilometers (224,000 square miles) of Amazon forest has destroyed in Brazil since 1980. Why has Brazil lost so much forest? What can be done to stop deforestation?


In the past, Brazilian deforestation was strongly correlated to the economic health of the country: the decline in deforestation from 1988-1991 nicely matched the economic slowdown during the same period, while the rocketing rate of deforestation from 1993-1998 paralleled Brazil's period of rapid economic growth. During lean times, ranchers and developers do not have the cash to expand their pasturelands and operations, while the government lacks funds to sponsor highways and colonization programs and grant tax breaks and subsidies to forest exploiters.

But this has all changed since the mid-2000s, when the link between deforestation and the broader Brazilian economy began to wane.

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Today deforestation in the Amazon is the result of several activities, the foremost of which include:

Clearing for cattle pasture
Colonization and subsequent subsistence agriculture
Infrastructure improvements
Commercial agriculture
Logging

(more)


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