The end of deforestation in the Brazilian rainforest — for only $7 to $18 Billion?

amazon deforestation photo

In October, Brazil’s President announced, “I foresee that by 2020 we will be able to reduce deforestation by 80 percent; in other words, we will emit some 4.8 billion fewer tons of carbon dioxide gas.”

Now, a new article in the December 4 issue of Science, “The End of Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon,” (subs. req’d, abstract below), explains just how modest is the funding needed to beat that goal — “$7 to $18 billion beyond Brazil’s current budget outlays.”  And that could mean “the end of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, which could result in a 2 to 5% reduction in global carbon emissions.”

As the news release from the Woods Hole Research Center explains, Brazil has already made significant reductions in deforestation in that last few years:

According to Daniel Nepstad, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center and the study’s lead author, “market forces and Brazil’s political will are converging in an unprecedented opportunity to end deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon with 80 percent of the forest still standing.”

Brazil has lowered deforestation rates 64 percent since 2005. This remarkable achievement was possible through a government crack-down on illegal activities in the region. It was helped by a retraction of the cattle and soybean industries, and a growing effort to exclude deforesters from the beef and soy markets. The article describes how Brazil could build upon this progress to end forest clearing by the year 2020, and the additional funding that will be required to reach this goal.

The study estimates that $6.5 to $18 billion will be needed from 2010 to 2020 to achieve the end of deforestation, resulting in a 2 to 5 percent reduction in global carbon dioxide emissions. The steps include the support of low-deforestation livelihoods for forest peoples and smallholders; identifying and rewarding responsible cattle ranchers and farmers; improved enforcement of environmental laws; and investments in protected area management. This estimate utilizes a sophisticated economic model of the Amazon region that estimates and maps the value of forgone profits from ranching and soy farming that are associated with forest conservation.

Britaldo Soares-Filho of the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, the article’s second author, describes, “Our economic models integrate the best available information on soils, roads, and the costs of production to capture the economic logic of the Amazon’s drivers of deforestation.”

Here is the abstract of the policy brief in Science:

Brazil has two major opportunities to end the clearing of its Amazon forest and to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions substantially. The first is its formal announcement within United Nations climate treaty negotiations in 2008 of an Amazon deforestation reduction target, which prompted Norway to commit $1 billion if it sustains progress toward this target. The second is a widespread marketplace transition within the beef and soy industries, the main drivers of deforestation, to exclude Amazon deforesters from their supply chains. According to our analysis, these recent developments finally make feasible the end of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, which could result in a 2 to 5% reduction in global carbon emissions. The $7 to $18 billion beyond Brazil’s current budget outlays that may be needed to stop the clearing [a range intermediate to previous cost estimates] could be provided by the REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) mechanism for compensating deforestation reduction that is under negotiation within the UN climate treaty (5), or by payments for tropical forest carbon credits under a U.S. cap-and-trade system.

The authors represent WHRC, “Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazonia (IPAM), Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Alian§a da Terra, Environmental Defense Fund, University of Florida, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, and the Universidade Federal do Par¡.”

Paulo Moutinho, leader of IPAM’s climate change program, in Brazil, and a scientist at the WHRC, states, “Brazil was, for many years, the country that said that rich nations must lead in developing a solution to climate change. Now, Brazil is showing that leadership.”

Now we mainly need one other country to show leadership….

h/t TH

15 Responses to The end of deforestation in the Brazilian rainforest — for only $7 to $18 Billion?

  1. To have such a significant impact on the health of the environment for under $20 billion highlights the misdirection of government spending in many parts of the world. Having flushed $1 trillion down the drain by invading Iraq in order to secure access to oil and continue on the path of pollution and climate change, the United States sadly demonstrated just how far behind the times our government is.

  2. mike roddy says:

    How about an end to deforestation in North America? One study estimated the carbon cost of liquidating our Northwest forests at 2 billion tons. How about leaving them alone- or at least dramatically reducing wood products consumption- both here and in Canada?

  3. Leif says:

    Mike Roddy: Even if we stopped cutting all the forests, which I feel we should do as well, we will still lose a huge amount due to pine bark beetles. These tracts of land will take many years to re-establish with different species, if such can even be found that will live in that ecologic nitch. The reason other species are not found in the pine forests is that they were the best suited in the first place.
    On another front, recent research indicates that the mere presence of forests tends to propagate rain fall further inland than bare ground. The added surface area of rain wetting trees before being absorbed into the ground increases evaporation to be re-condense and fall down the line. Tipping points are already here, for those who care to look!

  4. BobSmith says:

    This is great news, not only for Global Warming, but for biodiversity. Really, really good news.

  5. James Newberry says:

    Absolutely incredible. Have AIG write them out a $10 billion check today using the US taxpayer account. Or for the feds, what is that, one day of spending? Hey, Mr. Gates, care to help the next hundred generations avoid catastrophe?

  6. Cynthia says:

    Leiff, I agree! A few years ago,I read that 4 million acres of spruce trees in Alaska were reduced to mere “brown skeletons” as a result of bark beetle infestation. Now, we read that it’s spread to other areas, like Canada and Virginia… millions of acres of trees gone. It’s so disheartening!

    According to Senator Mitchell in his book, “World on Fire”, “…the die back of forests will start to be noticeable after a rise in temperature of 1.5 degrees, then come with a rush… warmer temperatures could set a host of migrating pests on forests that have up until now been out of reach”. Looks like we’re getting awfully close to that tipping point! I wish someone could figure out a way to treat the trees and kill the insects before the trees are destroyed!

  7. Leif says:

    Just GOOGLE “photos of pine bark beetle damage” and lots of photos will be available for your perusal. I have taken photos here in the North Cascades on the east side where every tree is DEAD as far as you can see. We do not have to wait for 1.5 degrees. It is happening NOW.

  8. Leif says:

    P.S. Cynthia: We know how to treat the trees to kill the beetles. All it takes is some cold winter weather. It has worked every year for eons. It does not poison the wildlife or fish in the rivers. The birds come back to a rejuvenated forest in the spring with insects hatching at a predictable time so that there is ample food to raise their young. The forests echo with bird song. The rivers bubble with life. The fish are jumping, the osprey have food as well. All these things I have seen in my life. MY grand kids ???

  9. Leif says:

    Here is one aerial view of pine bark beetle damage. for some reason the search results do not turn up the panoramic views that I had the other night. I will look for others.

  10. Leif says:

    The living trees in the above photo are a different species and so are unaffected. It is all very sad…

  11. Cynthia says:

    Leif, please read my post on “Why 2 Degrees Matters”. I don’t think we should just continue to wait and hope for the best. We’re losing the arctic and our trees!

  12. Cynthia says:

    To Leif: Actually, the comment is waiting moderation.

  13. Andy says:

    This factoid was a big shocker for me. The number one cause of deforestation in the SE United States is – conversion to pasture. Yes, deforestation, it’s just not for Brazil anymore.

  14. Jim Bouldin says:

    Three of the authors’ presentation at a press briefing today in Copenhagen, well worth watching: