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A hiccup has occurred in the Conservation efforts to slow deforestation in the Amazon.  Brazil is reporting an uptick of 28 percent in deforestation compared to last years lowest rate since monitoring began in 1988.   This increase in deforestation comes after a continuous decline since 2009.  From August 2012 through July 2013, Brazil saw an area of 2,255 sq. miles suffer deforestation, compared to only 1,765 sq. miles the 12 months before that.

About 41 percent of all deforestation in Brazil during the last year occurred in the state of Para, where agriculture is a huge factor in the destruction of the Amazon.  Many environmental groups claim the increase in deforestation is due to a change in the Forest Code laws, which now does not require private landowners to conserve a particular percentage of forest.  Add in a weakening economy, a need for agricultural lands, and a less funded law enforcement agency and you have a glitch in the system that results in more forest being cleared.

Although the new short term statistics may be alarming, the longer term trend is promising.  Brazil has reduced its deforestation rate dramatically since 2000, from approximately 15,400 sq. miles in the year 2000 to 7,720 sq. miles  in 2012.  Brazil also has a plan in place to reduce deforestation in the Amazon by 80 percent by the year 2020 compared to the average deforestation rate in 1996 to 2005.

The Amazon rainforest is home to one in ten species of the world.  This includes:

  • 40,000 plant species 
  • 3,000 freshwater fish species
  • 370 types of reptiles
  • Jaguars
  • Macaws
  • Poison Dart Frogs
  • Amazon River Dolphin
  • Black Spider Monkey

There are a number of actions every person can take to help prevent deforestation rates from climbing in the future.  Some simple things you can do include going paperless to prevent future logging, going vegetarian or vegan to reduce the need for livestock and ranches, and of course to be a smart consumer!   Brazil is one of the world’s largest producers of beef, a large percentage of deforestation occurs to Support land for livestock, not eating meat will reduce this need for such large ranches!  The growing Palm oil industry is having a huge impact on the environment including deforestation, so avoid palm oil all together!  Also beware of  new trends that maybe sacrificing forest land, like the new gold rush in the Amazon. Some people won’t buy blood diamonds, you shouldn’t buy gold that causes deforestation either!

Of course, there is also always the option of donation.  There are a plethora of organizations, who’s main purpose is to prevent deforestation around the world.  Some of these organizations include:

This recent set back proves that the efforts to conserve the rainforest in the Amazon and worldwide are not a one battle fight but a continuous effort which needs to evolve over time as new pressure develops.  New factors will appear again in the future. Maybe it will be a new set of laws or new economic forces, but as long as we don’t let it get out of control, we should be able to accommodate it and fix the problem.  The forests of the world aren’t completely lost yet!

Image Source: Matt Zimmerman/Flickr