Home Local News Illegal clearing by agribusiness “Leading Rainforest Destruction” – Global Issues

Illegal clearing by agribusiness “Leading Rainforest Destruction” – Global Issues

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In Brazil, the main agricultural products responsible for deforestation are beef and soybeans. Copyright: Marcelo Camargo / Agência Brasil, under Creative Commons 3.0
  • By Washington Castilhos (Rio de Janeiro)
  • Inter Press service

to me the report, The planet lost 77 million hectares of tropical forests between 2013 and 2019 in Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa, of which 60 percent – 46.1 million hectares – were driven by commercial agriculture. It says at least 69 percent of this “agricultural diversion – clearing of forests for agricultural purposes – was carried out in violation of national laws and regulations”.

The report says that illegal clearing of the production of commodities such as beef, soybeans and palm oil has caused the destruction of at least 31.7 million hectares of rainforests in the world over the past seven years.

“We don’t need to clear more forests in order to grow food. People need to understand the role of commercial agriculture in stimulating illegal deforestation, and how important tropical forests are,” said ecologist Arthur Blundell, lead co-author of the report.

Based on data from 23 countries, the study estimates that deforestation in Latin America and the Caribbean accounts for 44 percent of total forest loss across the tropics, and 77 percent of this loss is from commercial agriculture.

In Asia, forest losses accounted for 31 percent of the total, 76 percent of which resulted from agribusiness.

The loss of tropical forests in Africa accounted for 25 percent of the global total, but commercial agriculture accounted for only 10 percent of illegal deforestation, and subsistence farming was the main driver.

The researchers note that many countries, however, fail to report data on illegal deforestation, and reliable country data is scarce.

Economic motives

Geographer Eraldo Matricardi, associate professor at the University of Brasilia (UnB), who was not involved in the study, said: “Unfortunately, forest has not been considered as something viable yet, hence the interest in deforestation to make it productive. Agribusiness, in turn, has a point. Economic and high incentives from a financial point of view. “

Researchers accept that some commercial deforestation and subsistence farming are necessary for socioeconomic reasons.

However, Matricardi, an expert on land-use changes, explains that while legal deforestation follows specific boundaries and technical standards, “for illegal deforestation, there is a lack of standards.”

The degree of illegal deforestation varied between regions. In Latin America, 88 percent of agricultural diversions were carried out in violation of national laws and regulations, while in Africa the proportion was 66 percent and in Asia 41 percent.

According to the report, it is estimated that 81 percent of the clearing for Indonesian palm oil – the country’s main export commodity – is illegal.

In Brazil, where the main agricultural commodities responsible for deforestation are beef and soybeans, the use of pastures to graze livestock resulted in 74 percent of forest loss while soybeans accounted for 20 percent, the report says.

Besides soybeans, palm oil and livestock products (beef and leather), other commodities, such as cocoa, rubber, coffee and corn have also been cited as the main causes of illegal deforestation.

The researchers highlight the responsibility of consumers in the United States, China and the European Union, who are the main importers of these commodities.

“Producers of agricultural commodities need to strengthen their laws and stop illegal deforestation, but consumers internationally have a role too,” said Blundell. “They need to make sure that what they’re buying is not linked to forest loss. If you’re buying something from Brazil, for example, there is a lot of evidence that it might be due to deforestation.”

Climate change and corruption

However, the authors point out that illegality goes hand in hand with corrupt government systems, especially in Brazil and Indonesia.

In Brazil, illegality includes “impunity for deforestation in legal reserves and permanent conservation areas, amnesty for land confiscation, and the accelerated dismantling of environmental protection since Jair Bolsonaro came to power,” the report states.

Given the role that deforestation has played in climate change, the report shows that emissions from illegal agricultural diversion account for more than 2.7 gigatons of carbon dioxide.2 Annually – more than India’s fossil fuel emissions in 2018.

“We cannot address climate change unless we address illegal deforestation, and we cannot address illegal deforestation without addressing commercial food,” Blondell concluded.

This story was originally published before SciDev.Net

© Inter Press Service (2021) – All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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