In the Amazon, Brazilian ecologists try new approach against deforestation and poverty (2023)

In the Amazon, Brazilian ecologists try new approach against deforestation and poverty (1)

Jose Alves de Morais maneuvers a boat, in Carauari, Brazil, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. A Brazilian non-profit created a model for land ownership that welcomes both local people and scientists to collaborate in preserving the Amazon. "This is something that doesn't exist here in the Amazon, it doesn't exist anywhere in Brazil. If it works, which it will, it will attract a lot of people's attention," Morais, a resident, told The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)

CARAUARI, Brazil (AP) — In a remote corner of the Amazon, Brazilian ecologists are trying to succeed where a lack of governance has proved disastrous. They're managing a stretch of land in a way that welcomes both local people and scientists to engage in preserving the world’s largest tropical forest.

The goal is ambitious, counter the forces that have destroyed 10% of the forest in less than four decades and create something that can be replicated in other parts of the Amazon.

(Video) In the Amazon, Brazilian ecologists try new approach against deforestation and poverty|#shorts

It began with a four-month expedition along the Juruá River in 2016. Researchers visited some 100 communities that at first sight looked similar: rows of wooden homes on stilts along the water. But they were struck by contrasts in the living conditions.

To understand what they saw, it's important to know that 29% of the Amazon, an area roughly three times the size of California, is either public land with no special protection, or public land for which no public information exists, according to a study by the Amazon Institute of People and the Environment.

These areas have been shown to be more vulnerable to deforestation. Land robbers drive traditional communities off the land and then clear it, hoping the government will recognize them as owners, which usually happens.

“It's very unequal. Inside protected areas, there are many positive things happening, but outside, they seemed to be 40 years behind,” João Vitor Campos-Silva, a tropical socio-ecologist, told The Associated Press.

The researchers were aware that the part of the river known as Medio Juruá, near the city of Carauari, has remarkable social organization and people manage its fish and forest products, such as acai, sustainably. The land designation here is “extractive reserves,” public lands where residents are allowed to fish and harvest some crops.

But outside these reserves, in many places, people take orders from self-appointed landowners, Campos-Silva said. Entire communities are denied access to lakes, even to fish to feed their families. People don´t own the land, and they don’t know who does.

“We started thinking that it might be interesting to design a conservation model based on a basin scale,” where communities could harvest forest produce and fish and protect the forest, instead of moving to the city or resorting to illegal activities, such as unlicensed logging and overfishing.

So they created the non-profit Juruá Institute and purchased a 13 km (8 miles) rainforest property along the Juruá River. It includes about 20 lakes, some with good potential for raising prized pirarucu, the world’s largest freshwater scale fish, which can reach up to 200 kilos (440 pounds).

(Video) How Brazil is Fighting Against Bolsonaro's Policies | Amazon | Deforestation | ENDEVR Documentary

The goal, Campos-Silva said, is to promote high-quality science, grounded in working together with the region's people.

In the vicinity of the Institute's land there are 12 communities of former rubber-tappers. Brazilians call them “ribeirinhos,” or river people, as distinguished from Indigenous residents.

In the past, the chance to make a living from rubber trees drew their grandparents to the Amazon. Nowadays the main revenue comes from pirarucu. Controlling that fishery has proved to be sustainable, reviving a species that was in decline and generating income without the need to clear the forest, with all that means for loss of biodiversity.

The Amazon rainforest, covering an area twice the size of India, also holds tremendous stores of carbon and is a crucial buffer against climate change. Driven by land-robbers, deforestation surged to a 15-year high in recent years while Jair Bolsonaro, who left office in January, was president. Destruction in the eastern Amazon has been so extensive that it has become a carbon source, rather than a carbon sink.

To involve the riverine communities in governance, the institute set up a steering committee and launched a series of public meetings called “community of dreams,” where people could prioritize the improvements they want most.

To avoid potential gender and age biases, they worked in three groups - women, youth, and men, said Campos-Silva.

The president of the river communities' association, Fernanda de Araujo Moraes, said the main purpose is to prevent river people from moving to Amazon cities, where unemployment among low-skilled people is rampant and violence is widespread, thanks to drug-trafficking.

In her own community of Lago Serrado, where 12 families live in stilt houses, both the women and men listed 24-hour electricity as their top priority. Currently, it's only available three hours a day. The youths chose fishing training.

(Video) Deforestation and fire in the Brazilian Amazon: Ane Alencar

Moraes believes this kind of collaboration is the fastest route to progress. “We want to improve people’s lives and the Institute wants the same thing," she said, seated on the floor of her house, tending to her infant daughter. The government, she said, is not always on the same page.

“This is something that doesn’t exist here in the Amazon, it doesn’t exist anywhere in Brazil. If it works, which it will, it will attract a lot of people’s attention,” said resident José Alves de Morais, in an interview by the lake just behind the community.

Morais works as a lake keeper, watching for trespassers who might take fish or cut trees. His family hopes to take part in the institute's management of pirarucu fishing, which awaits federal approval.

On the scientific front, the institute has built a houseboat and a wooden house for as many as 20 researchers to spend seasons along the Juruá River. One is studying the uakari monkey. Others are looking at what makes social arrangements successful in the region. They created a program, Forest Scientists, to train local high school students in field collection, data systematization, and how to prepare reports.

The initiative is led by Carlos Peres, an Amazon-born professor of tropical conservation ecology at the University of East Anglia, in the United Kingdom. In April this work, begun as an experiment, got some recognition from a Swiss nonprofit when he and three other scientists won the Frontiers Planet Prize, which comes with $1.1 million. The money will be reinvested in the project, which has already received support from Synchronicity Earth, National Geographic and Rolex within Perpetual Planet Project.

The winning study used data gathered during that 2016 trip. Co-authored by Campos-Silva and others, it found communities living inside protected areas enjoy better access to health care, education, electricity, and basic sanitation, plus a more stable income, than communities in undesignated areas. They found only 5% of adults inside protected areas aspire to move to a city, compared with 58% of adults in unprotected areas.

The article argues that in tropical countries with limited resources, it is possible to achieve conservation and benefit local communities at the same time, by putting more power in their hands.

Peres, the Institute's scientific director, says it hopes to inspire solutions across the Amazon region, by integrating traditional knowledge with the science of Western models.

(Video) Amazon Rainforest Defenders Confront Violence, Encroachment and Politics | Retro Report

“We do not have all the answers,” he said. “But we have the audacity to try to advance on these issues.”


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What has been done to stop deforestation in the Amazon rainforest? ›

Amazon Conservation has reforested degraded lands with over 250,000 trees to date, most through community-based reforestation projects in the Manu National Park buffer zone.

What is the main reason for deforestation in Brazil? ›

The main cause of deforestation is clearing of land for agriculture and livestock. Although the annual rate of deforestation in Brazil has been sharply declining in recent years, it still amounts to 2.6 million hectares (the size of Luxembourg).

How does Brazil protect the Amazon? ›

In 1965, Brazil created and passed its first Forest Code, a law requiring landowners in the Amazon to maintain 35 to 80 percent of their property under native vegetation. So, rural farmers of all kinds can buy land in the Amazon, but they can only farm 20 percent of it.

Who is responsible for deforestation in the Amazon? ›

Cattle ranching in the Brazilian Amazon, incentivized by the international beef and leather trades, has been responsible for about 80% of all deforestation in the region, or about 14% of the world's total annual deforestation, making it the world's largest single driver of deforestation.

How can deforestation in Brazil be solved? ›

Offer Brazil economic incentives to combat deforestation in the Amazon. By supplying foreign aid, the United States could support sustainable farming initiatives, practices that prevent forest fires, or the revitalization of the Brazilian forests.

What solutions have been tried to stop deforestation? ›

Solutions to Deforestation
  • Government Regulations. ...
  • Banning Clear-Cutting of Forests. ...
  • Reforestation and Afforestation. ...
  • Reduce Consumption of Paper. ...
  • Educate Others. ...
  • Eat Less Meat. ...
  • Purchase from Sustainable, Forest-Friendly Companies. ...
  • Reduce Consumption of Deforestation Prone Products.

What is the biggest cause of deforestation in the Amazon? ›

Globally, beef and soy are the leading drivers of tropical deforestation and conversion of other habitats. In South America, cattle ranches and soy fields are ravaging not just the Amazon but also the Cerrado and Gran Chaco landscapes.

What are the three main causes of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon? ›

The leading drivers of deforestation in the Amazon are:
  • Unchecked Agricultural Expansion. Uncurbed expansion of ranching and unsustainable farming practices clear forests and leaves areas more prone to fires that can quickly become uncontrolled. ...
  • Poorly-Planned Infrastructure. ...
  • Climate Change.

What is the main reason that Brazilians have cut down many trees in the Amazon rainforest in recent decades? ›

The clearing of land for cattle ranching accounts for 80 percent of deforestation in the Amazon.

How does deforestation in the Amazon effect Brazil? ›

Consequences of deforestation in the Amazon include a significant loss of species and their habitats, a disturbance of indigenous people and their health, fire, an increase in CO2 emission, and a negatively altered water cycle around the globe.

What is one major effect of deforestation in Brazil? ›

Brazil has lost 20% of its rainforest to deforestation, making the country one of world's biggest contributors to greenhouse gases and global climate change.

What is happening to the Amazon in Brazil? ›

The primary drivers of deforestation in the Amazon — and other biomes in Brazil such as the Pantanal and the Cerrado — are agribusiness and meat consumption. This destructive economic development model has long been practiced in the Amazon, but it has been reinforced by the Bolsonaro government.

When did deforestation become a problem in the Amazon? ›

Large-scale deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon began in the 1960s, when government incentives to clear land for production coincided with more effective tools such as chainsaws and bulldozers.

How bad is deforestation in Brazil? ›

The fact that throughout the past 20 years the Amazon rainforest—also known as the “lungs of the world”—has been devastated by deforestation is hardly news. Between 2001 and 2021, Brazil lost 62.8 million hectares of tree cover, nearly 12% of the country's total tree canopy.

Is there a solution to deforestation? ›

Promoting Sustainable Choices

You can make a difference in the fight to save forests by making informed daily choices. By consuming less, avoiding single-use packaging, eating sustainable food, and choosing recycled or responsibly-produced wood products, we can all be part of the movement to protect forests.

What is the main cause of deforestation in the Amazon quizlet? ›

Forest is cleared to make space for cattle grazing or for huge plantations. What is the main cause of Deforestation in the Amazon rainforest? Cattle Ranching.

What are the conclusions of deforestation? ›

Conclusion. Deforestation is a major threat to the environment, contributing to climate change, loss of biodiversity, and soil degradation. The causes of deforestation are complex and multifaceted, with factors such as agriculture, urbanization, infrastructure development, and climate change all playing a role.

What is the reason for deforestation? ›

Direct causes of deforestation are agricultural expansion, wood extraction (e.g., logging or wood harvest for domestic fuel or charcoal), and infrastructure expansion such as road building and urbanization.

How is deforestation affecting the environment? ›

Trees absorb and store carbon dioxide. If forests are cleared, or even disturbed, they release carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Forest loss and damage is the cause of around 10% of global warming. There's simply no way we can fight the climate crisis if we don't stop deforestation.

What part of the Amazon has the most deforestation? ›

Distribution of the deforested area in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest from 1988 to 2021, by state
CharacteristicShare of total deforested area
Mato Grosso31.93%
5 more rows
Feb 8, 2023

Why is the Amazon being cut down? ›

The demand for minerals and metals such as oil, aluminium, copper, gold and diamonds mean that rainforests are destroyed to access the ground below. Developed nations relentlessly demand minerals and metals such as oil, aluminium, copper, gold and diamonds, which are often found in the ground below rainforests.

What are the 5 effects of deforestation in Brazil? ›

The impacts of deforestation include loss of biodiversity, reduced water cycling (and rainfall), and contributions to global warming. Strategies to slow deforestation include repression through licensing procedures, monitoring, and fines.

What are 3 reasons why the deforestation of the Brazilian rain forest is harmful to our society? ›

Cutting down rainforests can damage habitat, diminish levels of biodiversity and food sources, degrade the soil, pollute rivers and lands, and cause areas to dry out affecting the overall productivity for the peoples and animals that live there.

Is deforestation increased in the Brazilian Amazon? ›

Government satellites show that a record 322 sq km of Amazon rainforest were destroyed in February, a 62% increase on last year and the highest number for the month since records began.

What is the largest driver of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon? ›

95% of this occurs in the tropics. At least three-quarters of this is driven by agriculture – clearing forests to grow crops, raise livestock and produce products such as paper. If we want to tackle deforestation we need to understand two key questions: where we're losing forests, and what activities are driving it.

What has the greatest negative impact on poverty rates in Brazil? ›

Inequality of Land Distribution

According to USAID, inequality of land distribution is a major factor contributing to poverty levels in Brazil.

What are some problems in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil? ›

This vast untamed wilderness is under increasing threat from huge-scale farming and ranching, infrastructure and urban development, unsustainable logging, mining and climate change.

What parts of the Amazon jungle are experiencing the most habitat loss due to deforestation? ›

The south/ southeastern region of the Amazon Basin in Brazil has a high density of deforestation along with patches at the northwestern tip of Colombia and the northern part of Brazil.

Has Brazil's Amazon rainforest reached a new deforestation record this year? ›

New data from Brazil's National Institute for Space Research shows that more than 3,980 square kilometers of the Amazon—an area five times the size of New York City—were cleared in the first six months of 2022, the highest figure in at least six years.

What is the Amazon rainforest being cut and cleared for? ›

The Amazon rain forest, harbouring probably millions of species, is being cut and cleared for cultivating soya beans or for conversion to grasslands for raising beef cattle.

Can the Amazon be reforested? ›

A bold initiative to regrow 73 million trees in the Brazilian Amazon has made substantial progress despite some unexpected hurdles, according to an upcoming report.

How much of the Amazon rainforest is protected? ›

However, projects have paid little attention to strict protection, which is the foundation for sustainable development and ecological integrity. the total area under strict supervision to 10 percent of Brazil's Amazon basin. This means adding around 25 million hectares to the 12 million already under protection.

Why are trees being cut down and removed from the Amazon rainforest? ›

The demand for minerals and metals such as oil, aluminium, copper, gold and diamonds mean that rainforests are destroyed to access the ground below. Developed nations relentlessly demand minerals and metals such as oil, aluminium, copper, gold and diamonds, which are often found in the ground below rainforests.

Why does Brazil want to cut down the Amazon rainforest? ›

In Brazil, cattle ranchers and land-grabbers set the Amazon on fire to illegally clear land and expand their destructive business. They do this because the global meat industry — and its paying customers — have historically been willing to sacrifice forests — and our futures — for profits.

Why should we not cut down the Amazon rainforest? ›

Rainforests are natural air filters. They store and filter excess carbon and other pollutants from the atmosphere and release oxygen through photosynthesis. Without rainforests, our planet is unable to mitigate excess greenhouse gas emissions, which destabilizes the Earth's climate.

Can the Amazon rainforest be restored? ›

Restoration in action. Large-scale forest restoration in the Brazilian Amazon isn't commonplace yet, and will require strategic planning based on up-to-date data to work out.

Is deforestation still a problem in the Amazon? ›

The Amazon spans more than 670 million hectares, making it the largest rainforest in the world. 20% of the Amazon biome has been lost already, and it is estimated that 27% will be without trees by 2030 if the current rate of deforestation continues.

Are trees being cut down in the Amazon? ›

Destruction of the rain forest in Brazil has decreased from about 19,943 square kilometers (7,700 square miles) per year in the late 1990s to about 5,180 square kilometers (2,000 square miles) per year now. Moving forward, the major challenge will be fighting illegal deforestation.

Is Brazil trying to protect the Amazon rainforest? ›

Brazil's most powerful weapon against deforestation in the short run is Ibama, which slaps fines on offenders, bans farming in deforested areas and destroys expensive equipment used in illegal logging.

How much would it cost to stop deforestation in the Amazon? ›

It would likely cost more than $130 billion a year to end deforestation by the end of this decade, according to a report from a group of financiers, energy industry executives and academics.

How many years until the Amazon rainforest is gone? ›

No more rainforest

With the current rate of deforestation, the world's rainforests will be gone by 2100. The rainforest is home to more than half of all species on Earth.


1. Inside the destruction of Asia's last rainforest - BBC World Service
(BBC World Service)
2. Nicholas Carter on food, methane, deforestation, regenerative ag and more | Sentient Media Podcast
(Sentient Media)
3. Indigenous Amazonian Exploration With Hernani Oliveira
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4. Wilandia Chaves: Empty Forests and Full Stomachs: Urbanization and Wildlife Consumption in Amazonia
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5. S2:E11 What is Happening to the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil
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6. Brazil: Appetite for beef eats into rainforest | Global Ideas
(DW News)


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