– More than 60% of the Brazilian territory is covered by native vegetation. Agricultural activities are limited in Brazil to around 30% of the territory, of which only 8% is used for crops, and 22 % for livestock raising.
– Brazil ranks today as the first exporter of sugar, coffee, orange juice, soybeans, poultry and bovine meat. Brazil also ranks as the second major exporter of corn.
– Grain production in Brazil is approaching this year a record 250 million tons, with an increase of 2,5% over the previous year. And the livestock production is set to grow 7,2% in value this year, given the increased demand from the external markets and the impact of the swine fever in China.
– Brazilian exports of agricultural products are not responsible for deforestation in the Amazon.
– Brazilian exports of meat and grains do not originate from the Amazon region.
– These exports actually come from farming areas concentrated in other regions of the country. Deforestation is not a matter of concern is these private producing areas. The export and production chain in Brazil is guided by voluntary traceability mechanisms.
– Deforestation in Brazil is linked mainly to illegal activities (such as illegal mining, land grabbing and logging) in public lands.
– The main challenge in the Amazon region is the fight against these illegal practices. 70% of deforestation in the Amazon region does not occur in farming areas, but rather in public and unclaimed areas. Therefore, it is not primarily related to agricultural activities or livestock grazing in private areas.
– The Brazilian Forest Code requires that all rural properties in the Amazon region keep intact 80% of their native vegetation.
Protected Areas in Brazil
– The Brazilian territory extends over 8.5 million km2, which is bigger than the contiguous continental territory of the United States.
– Protected areas (conservation units and indigenous lands) cover 24.2% (more than 2 million km2) of the Brazilian territory.
The Amazon Biome
– The Amazon Rain Forest is a biome (Amazon Biome) that covers 49% of the Brazilian territory, with an extension of 4.2 million km2.
– Native vegetation covers 84% of the Amazon Biome, extending over 3.52 million km2.
– Superimposed on the United States, the preserved native vegetation of the Amazon Rain Forest would cover 45% of the total surface of the contiguous continental territory of the United States.
– Protected areas (conservation units and indigenous lands) cover 49% of the total Amazon Biome; privately owned areas cover 26%; and unregistered/unclaimed areas cover 25%.
The Legal Amazon Region
– The “Legal Amazon Region” is a broader definition that encompasses the Cerrado (savannah) and transitional areas surrounding the forest, with a total area of 5.2 million km2.
– 30 million Brazilians live in the “Legal Amazon Region”, and this population is mostly concentrated in urban areas.
Deforestation and Fires in the Legal Amazon Region
– There was a significant reduction in deforestation rates in the Legal Amazon Region: from 27,700 km² in 2004 to 7,500 km² in 2018 (72% reduction). The average rate of deforestation in the past 10 years is 6,500 km2. In 2019 deforestation affected an area of 9,700 km2 (a 29% increase in relation to 2018).
– For its part, seasonal fires in the “Legal Amazon Region” and also in the entire Brazilian territory are a recurring phenomenon that affects mostly the transitional areas already occupied by farmland activities, in the period from August to November, favored by drought conditions.
– Seasonal fires in Brazil affect predominantly the Cerrado and transition areas, and are concentrated in land already occupied by agricultural and livestock production.
– It is always likely that illegal deforestation is followed by fire clearing of the land.
– But forest fires are not necessarily linked to deforestation. Only part of the areas affected by seasonal fires corresponds to recently cleared forest areas. Many fires occurring in the Central Area of Brazil affect, for instance, national parks which are not subject to agricultural pressure whatsoever.
– There has been an increase in the number of fire spots detected in 2019 in comparison to 2018, but they were not out of line with the historical records.
Lungs of the World?
– Contrary to the common place assumption that describes the Amazon Rain Forest as the “lungs of the world”, the scientific evidence is that the forest consumes as much oxygen as it produces. The importance of the Amazon Rain Forest conservation lies in its immense biodiversity and its role as a carbon sink and in the regulation of the water cycle.
– Brazil is fully committed to the implementation of its obligations under the Biodiversity Convention and the Climate Change Convention. In 2015 Brazil achieved a reduction of 35% in its greenhouse gas emissions in relation to 2005. Brazil´s energy matrix relies 45% on renewable sources
Prepared by the Brazilian Consulate General