Amazon v. Boreal deforestation

The rate of Amazon deforestation has accelerated. This year is worse – almost 12,000 km sq were deforested this year (until July), which is the equivalent to the size of 20 Torontos, including the city’s suburbs. That rate is about 4 per cent higher than last year. It’s the first increase in four years, according to Brazilian officials.

What’s driving the deforestation? Same factors as usual – demand for land for cattle and crops like soy. The Brazilian government says the deforestation is a serious problem, and has acknowledged the link to climate change. It has launched an international fund to protect the rainforest that will support conservation and sustainable alternatives to forest-clearing for people living in the Amazon. It’s hoping to raise $26 billion internationally.

It’s easy to feel that this is just a cash grab, but most of the world have already chopped down their forests already. Much of Europe used to be forested, and the rate of deforestation of Canada’s Boreal continues, although the scale is nowhere near the same. For most of human history, forests have been seen as a waste of land. The Brazilian government is publicly committed to anti-deforestation measures, but unless there are viable economic alternatives for the loggers, illegal logging will continue. It’s difficult to underestimate the scale of opposition: just last week, 3,000 people attacked government offices and opened fire to protest a crackdown on illegal Amazon logging. Eventually the federal government had to send in troops to quell the unrest.

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