Amazon Deforestation Increases 28 Percent in One Year

By Daniela Montalto

Last week, the Brazilian government released annual figures for deforestation in the Amazon and the news is not good. A total of 5,843 square kilometres are estimated lost between August 2012 and July 2013, an increase in deforestation of 28 percent compared to the previous year.

Last year's massive weakening of the Forest Code in the Brazilian Congress lead to a massive increase in deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon.

This sharp increase in deforestation in the Amazon is no surprise—all deforestation estimates released over the last year have shown we were headed in this direction. Last year, the government passed a new Forest Code, dramatically changing the environmental law that governs forest use in Brazil, including the Amazon.

A strong agribusiness influence in the Brazilian Congress lead to a massive weakening of the Forest Code—a law that once helped protect the Amazon. Those who believed the empty promises that the new Forest Code would bring governance to the Amazon, that amnesty granted to environmental criminals would not have consequences and that farmers in the Amazon would be moved by the spirit of Brazilian citizenship and legal compliance, can now see the reality of the impact of the new law in the forest. The ‘growth-at-all-costs’ model, based on the expansion of the agricultural frontier and the establishment of large infrastructure projects in the Amazon provides a sharp contrast to the image the government wants to sell.

Brazil can no longer hide behind the celebrated decrease in deforestation made in past years or the thinly veiled promises around the Forest Code. Brazil can hardly continue to claim leadership in sustainability and new models of development as all eyes turn to Brazil as hosts of the upcoming World Cup.

Corporate Responsibility

In 2009, the three largest slaughterhouses in Brazil signed the Cattle Agreement and pledged not to buy cattle from farms that were involved in new deforestation, slave labor or invasions into Indigenous land and protected areas in the Amazon. In 2006, the soy and cattle sector made commitments to move away from deforestation. The Soy Moratorium was signed by soy traders to stop the trade of soy coming from newly deforested land.

The Soy Moratorium is still in place today but it is set to expire in January 2014. If the industry fails to renew the moratorium without the proper safeguards and next steps in place, this could mean more bad news for the Amazon. We could see another dramatic increase in forest destruction as Soy expansion runs rampant through the forest.

Visit EcoWatch’s BIODIVERSITY page for more related news on this topic.

Show Comments ()

Three Outlandish Ideas to Cool the Planet

By Jeremy Deaton

Climate change is a big, ugly, unwieldy problem, and it's getting worse by the day. Emissions are rising. Ice is melting, and virtually no one is taking the carbon crisis as seriously as the issue demands. Countries need to radically overhaul their energy systems in just a few short decades, replacing coal, oil and gas with clean energy. Even if countries overcome the political obstacles necessary to meet that aim, they can expect heat waves, drought and storms unseen in the history of human civilization and enough flooding to submerge Miami Beach.

Keep reading... Show less

Those Little Produce Stickers? They’re a Big Waste Problem

By Dan Nosowitz

Those little produce stickers are ubiquitous fruits and vegetables everywhere. But, as CBC notes, they're actually a significant problem despite their small size.

Keep reading... Show less

Despite Trump’s Bluster, U.S. Officials and Scientists Maintain Climate Work with International Partners

Trump has loudly declared his intention to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris agreement, but, behind the tweets and the headlines, U.S. officials and scientists have carried on working with international partners to fight climate change, Reuters reported Wednesday.

Keep reading... Show less
Gina Loudon and administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Gage Skidmore

EPA Sued Over Failure to Release Correspondence With Heartland Institute

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is being sued for its "unlawful and unreasonable delay" in responding to requests for information about the agency's communications with the Heartland Institute, according to a complaint by the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

The Heartland Institute is an Illinois-based think tank that rejects the science of man-made climate change and has received funding from the Koch brothers and the fossil fuel industry.

Keep reading... Show less
Trump Watch
Aerial photo of Duke Energy Coal Ash Spill. Wake Forest University Center for Energy, Environment & Sustainability

Trump Administration Seeks to Gut Water Pollution Safeguards, Putting Communities at Risk

By Mary Anne Hitt

A Hollywood scriptwriter couldn't make this up. One day after new data revealed widespread toxic water contamination near coal ash disposal sites, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt announced a proposal to repeal the very 2015 EPA safeguards that had required this data to be tracked and released in the first place. Clean water is a basic human right that should never be treated as collateral damage on a corporate balance sheet, but that is exactly what is happening.

Keep reading... Show less
Impossible Foods

Impossible Burger Executive Grilled at Sustainable Foods Summit

An executive from a company selling a genetically engineered meat alternative faced tough questions at the Sustainable Foods Summit held in San Francisco at the end of January.

Keep reading... Show less
Elephant family in Kenya. Nzomo Victor / Flickr

Why Trump’s New Trophy Hunting Council Is a Disaster

By Elly Pepper

In early November—the same week the Trump administration announced its disastrous decision to allow elephant and lion trophy imports from Zimbabwe and Zambia—the administration decided to create an advisory committee, the International Wildlife Conservation Council (IWCC), to advise Trump on how to enhance trophy hunters' ability to hunt internationally.

Yup, that means the administration now has a council dedicated exclusively to promoting the killing of more imperiled species, like elephants and lions, for sport. The council's mandate includes counseling Trump on the economic, conservation, and anti-poaching benefits of trophy hunting, of which there are very few. Sadly, Trump doesn't want advice on the many drawbacks of trophy hunting.

Keep reading... Show less
A robot bee from a season three episode of Black Mirror on Netflix

Walmart Files Patent for Robot Bees

With the mass die-off of bees spelling trouble for agriculture, the world's largest retailer has filed patents for the use of "unmanned vehicles," or drones, to aid with pollination and crop production.

In U.S. Patent Office documents made public last week, Walmart has applied for six patents on drones designed to identify pest damage, spray pesticides and pollinate plants.

Keep reading... Show less


The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!