Is the Tide Turning on Deforestation?By JOHN COLLINS RUDOLF
A sawmill in the Amazon. Reports suggest that international pressure is reining in deforestation.
For decades, logging has eaten away at the Brazilian Amazon, often called the “earth’s lungs” for its ability to generate vast amounts of oxygen through photosynthesis. Experts estimate that roughly 20 percent of the rain forest has been destroyed, with much of it turned into ranchland or farms. Other primeval forests around the world, from Indonesia to Cameroon, are similarly threatened.
Now signs are growing that international efforts to clamp down on illegal logging and strengthen timber harvesting regulations are succeeding in slowing the destruction of these forests.
In Brazil in particular, an overhaul of logging laws and a new zeal in enforcement have led to a significant drop not only in illegal logging but also in overall deforestation rates in the Amazon, according to satellite data from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research.
Bob Walker, a professor of geography at Michigan State University and an expert on deforestation in the Amazon, witnessed the crackdown on illegal logging during a recent trip into an area of once-rampant deforestation – Brazil’s so-called soy highway, where large swaths of forest have been transformed into soybean fields in recent decades.
Imagem: Eugenio Arima