The forests are still being cut away for logging, land clearance and commercial farming. The future still looks gloomy for the enormous bio-resources that forests represent. Corruption, pollution, corporate greed and population growth all have their villainous parts to play in the tragedy that is the loss of the world’s forests. However, a few small positives can be drawn from last year (2011). One of those positives can be found by looking at Brazil. This note of optimism must be tempered with fear of all the good work being undone by unscrupulous money concerns.
The Brazilian government has continued its trend of slowing down the rate at which the Amazon is being cleared. In 2011 just over 6,000 square kilometers of rainforest was cleared. This is terrible, but represents a 75% reduction in forest clearance since 2004. Brazil has been dramatically slowing down deforestation since 2004. It is time that the media gave a little recognition to the efforts of the Brazilian authorities and ask how best the developed world can help to support the Brazilian effort.
A corollary success for Brazil has been to improve agricultural efficiency. The soy and cattle industry rather than just proceeding through slash-and-burn techniques has been forced to develop better methods of production. The resulting efficiency has made these sectors at last profitable (and less destructive).
However, Brazilian politics is at a fragile point. Revisions to the Forest Code that are in the Brazilian parliament threaten to undermine all the good work so far achieved. The monied interests behind deforestation have assassinated environmental activists and have lobbied parliament to make crucial changes to the law to allow more deforestation. Only the new President Dilma Rouseff can stop the eco-wrecking revisions through using the Presidential veto. The revisions to the Forest Code if they went through would result in more carbon being released into the atmosphere than the total carbon output for the whole world for a year.
The Brazilian public is behind Dilma and the environmental movement in the country. 19% voted for the Green candidate Marina Silva in the last election. Are the President and the Brazilian public any match for the big corporations? We can all play our part in supporting the Brazilian rainforest. One of the things we can do is to buy more bamboo products as substitutes for hardwood products; not least we can buy strand woven bamboo flooring instead of hardwood flooring that comes from a rainforest.