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The concept of global ecosystem services has become a powerful paradigm for understanding the link between ecosystem processes and related human activities, which is expressed by the economic and ecological quantification of the services in regards to sustainable development. The role of tropical forests in the global climate system and the uncertainty of the exact magnitude of this complex interaction has become a major concern to the scientific community. In this paper we review and synthesize the global effects of Amazon deforestation in Brazil, as well as drivers and challenges related to this process. To this end, we provide data on carbon emissions from combined annual maps of clear cutting of primary forests and spatial information on biomass distribution for different vegetation types and secondary vegetation growth, as well as the temporal dynamic related to the deforestation process and its interregional heterogeneity, the social and institutional drivers. In 2009, during the Conference of Parties, of the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (Copenhagen, Denmark), Brazil announced a voluntary commitment to reduce the national GHG emissions by 2020 and, to this end, such commitment requires reducing Amazon rainforest deforestation by 80% over a decade. To achieve this target, a set of consolidated remote sensing techniques have served to monitor and calculate the extent of deforestation, which became indispensable auditing tools for conservation, forest restoration and implementing climate change mitigation schemes.
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future science group 575
ISSN 1758-3004
10.4155/CMT.11.48 © 2011 Future Science Ltd
Tropical regions, especially the rainforest, play a criti-
cal role in the global carbon budget [1 –3] . As the larg-
est continuous area of remaining tropical rainforest,
the Amazon region in South America has particular
importance. The Brazilian Amazon alone contains more
carbon stored in its forest, a complex myriad of plant
species, than the amount of global human-induced fossil
fuel CO2 emissions of an entire decade [4]. Key questions
are posed as to the fate of this ecosystem:
How does the carbon balance of tropical forests
respond to rapid, ongoing changes in climate and
atmospheric composition? [5 –7] ;
What are the implications of drastic changes in land
cover in regard to its function and dynamic? [8,9] ;
What are the key drivers in land u se-change
processes? [10 , 11] ;
Which mechanisms can be effective in preserving a
substantial portion of the forest in the long term?
Amazon deforestation
Human presence in the Amazon can be traced back
thousands of years, when indigenous people settled in
a geographically complex organization throughout the
entire area [12] . However, in the past 40 years the region
has experienced drastic changes in the land cover and
use, fostered, mainly, by the replacement of native veg-
etation for cattle ranching and subsistence/family agri-
culture and, lately, large-scale agriculture, such as soy-
bean cultivation. In the Brazilian Amazon, most of the
changes in land cover and anthropogenic degradation
are concentrated in the southern and eastern parts of the
region [13 , 14 ] , in what is called the ‘arc of deforestation
(Figure1). Despite this trend, changes in the character
Carbon Management (2011) 2(5), 575–585
Amazon deforestation in Brazil: eects, drivers
Jean Pierre Ometto†1, Ana Paula Dutra Aguiar1 & Luiz Antonio Martinelli2
The concept of global ecosystem services has become a powerful paradigm for understanding the link
between ecosystem processes and related human activities, which is expressed by the economic and
ecological quantication of the services in regards to sustainable development. The role of tropical forests
in the global climate system and the uncertainty of the exact magnitude of this complex interaction has
become a major concern to the scientic community. In this paper we review and synthesize the global
eects of Amazon deforestation in Brazil, as well as drivers and challenges related to this process. To this end,
we provide data on carbon emissions from combined annual maps of clear cutting of primary forests and
spatial information on biomass distribution for dierent vegetation types and secondary vegetation growth,
as well as the temporal dynamic related to the deforestation process and its interregional heterogeneity, the
social and institutional drivers. In 2009, during the Conference of Parties, of the United Nation Framework
Convention on Climate Change (Copenhagen, Denmark), Brazil announced a voluntary commitment to
reduce the national GHG emissions by 2020 and, to this end, such commitment requires reducing Amazon
rainforest deforestation by 80% over a decade. To achieve this target, a set of consolidated remote sensing
techniques have served to monitor and calculate the extent of deforestation, which became indispensable
auditing tools for conservation, forest restoration and implementing climate change mitigation schemes.
1CCST/INPE, Av. dos Astronautas, 1758, São José dos C ampos, SP, 12227–010, Brazil
2CENA/USP, Av. Centenário, 303. Piracic aba, SP, 13416–000, Brazil
Author for correspondence: E-mail: jean
For reprint orders, please contact
Carbon Mana gement (2011) 2(5) future science group
Review Ometto, Aguiar & Martinelli
of economic development, in the
near future, with increases in infra-
structure and the presence of the
highly capitalized agribusiness, can
constitute a grave threat to the cur-
rent preserved central and western-
most areas, posing a challenge to the
social structure and environmental
balance in the region.
The Brazilian National Institute
for Space Research has monitored the
rate of deforestation in the Amazon
region since the late 1980s (Amazon
Deforestation Calculation Program
[PRODES]) [101] , providing some
of the more consistent mapping of
deforestation in tropical regions
in the world. Until 1970, defor-
estation in the Brazilian Amazon
totaled approximately 98,000 km2;
whilst in the last 40 years (1970–
2009), the deforested area totaled
730,000 km2, encompassing approx-
imately 18% of the areas originally
covered by primary vegetation [15, 16 ] ,
imperiling thousands of species
and launching billions of tons of
GHGs into the atmosphere [1 7] .
The PRODES system identified a
reduction in the annual clear-cut
deforestation rate in the region over
the past 4 years, stabilizing dur-
ing the biennium 2007–2008 at
approximately 12,200 km2
y-1, with
a smaller rate in 2009 (7464 km2)
(Figure2) [101] . Systematic monitoring
by the Brazilian National Institute
for Space Research allowed the
Brazilian government to propose a
target plan for reducing deforesta-
tion in the Amazon region. This
proposal, discussed further in this
document, considered the mean
annual deforestation from 1995
to 2005 (19,613 km2 y-1) as refer-
ence, (Ministry of Science and
Technology, [MCT], Brazil).
Carbon emissions due
Aside from the effects on atmospheric
chemistry and global GHG budget,
changes in land cover and land use
have a direct effect on several eco-
system dynamics, overall, related to
the water and energy balance [18] , loss of biodiversity,
harmful surface run-off and the nitrogen dynamic [19– 21] .
Among various processes affected by changes in land
cover, the carbon dynamic is frequently altered. Carbon
accounts for more than 45% of the biomass and repre-
sents the flux biotic of energy in the systems. According
to Quere et al. and Longo et al., given the magnitude of
burning in the Amazon rainforest and the efficiency of
the atmospheric transport processes of fire emissions,
these perturbations can affect the climate system on a
regional and global scale [3, 22] . Nevertheless, estimates of
sources and sinks in terrestrial ecosystems are not trivial,
but are critical for a better understanding of the anthro-
pogenic contribution to the increase of CO2 concentra-
tion in the atmosphere, the airborne fraction [23]. Even
so, substantial uncertainty surrounds land use change
and vegetation dynamic in the tropics.
Recently, Mahli revisited several carbon emission
estimates of deforestation in the tropical A mericas,
and observed a 20% increase in deforested areas from
1990 to 1999 and 2000 to 2005 (yet not considering
recent reductions in deforestation rates in Brazil and
Indonesia) [24]. His findings account for the total car-
bon emission from deforestation, in the tropics of the
Americas, from 0.44 ± 0.13 PgC (first period, 1990–1999)
to 0.53 ± 0.12 PgC (second period, 2000–2005).
Deforestation until 1997
Deforestation from 2000 to 2009
10°0’0”S 0°0’0”
10°0’0”S 0°0’0”
70°0’0”W 60°0’0”W 50°0’0”W 40°0’0”W
70°0’0”W 60°0’0”W 50°0’0”W 40°0’0”W
Figure1. Deforestation pattern in the Brazilian Amazon.
Data from [10 3] .
Key terms
Tropical forests: Forests occurring near
the equator, within the area bounded
by latitudes 23.5° north and south.
These forests are characterized by the
greatest diversity of species and distinct
precipitation seasonality. Temperature
varies little throughout the year and
averages 20–25°C. Precipitation is
distributed throughout the year but
with clear wet/dry seasonality and
annual rainfall generally exceeds
2000mm. Tropical forests are
recognized by high carbon stocks in the
above and bellow ground biomass.
Deforestation: Removal of a forest
where the land is thereafter converted
to another use (i.e., agriculture, pasture
or urbanization). In this text,
deforestation is the clear cutting of a
forest, that is, most or all trees in a
harvest area are cut down.
Amazon deforestation in Brazil Review
future science group 577
Fearnside estimated the total emission of 2.4 PgC.y-1
for the Pan Tropical region from 1981 to 1990 [25], esti-
mating higher than calculations by DeFries et al. and
Archard et al. [26 ,2 7]. These authors used an advanced very
high resolution radiometer [26] a nd L and sat™ im age s [27]
to show values ranging from 0.3 to 0.50 PgC.y-1 (the
198 0s ) a nd 0 .5 to 1.4 PgC.y-1 (the 1990s). Hirsch et al.
estimated the carbon flux from the Brazilian Amazon
to the atmosphere at 7.0 PgC from 1970 to 1998 [2 8].
These authors stressed that if the soil organic carbon
and litter dynamic are considered, one more petagram
of carbon would have to be included in the emission
balance. Estimates of carbon losses directly related to
deforestation in the Amazon vary strongly, from 0.16
to 0.60 PgC.y-1 [2, 27–3 0] , depending on the methodology
considered [28] . If one considers that the mean contribu-
tion from the Brazilian Amazon to global humid tropic
deforestation from 1995 to 2005 was close to 45%, the
recent trend in the deforestation rate in Brazil accounts
for a reduction of 62% of the country’s contribution
to the global emissions associated with depletion of
primary vegetation.
Recently, Aguiar et al. proposed a spatial distribu-
tion model to estimate carbon loss from deforestation
in the Brazilian Amazon [31]. The model follows several
studies suggesting that accounting for the standing bio-
mass in the deforested area, and its spatial variability,
are crucial elements in estimating carbon loss by defor-
estation [2, 32, 33] . Using historical data, the model in
Aguiar et al. looks back to 1960 in considering hori-
zontal deforestation rates and carbon emissions, which
is critical when the dynamic of the processes and car-
bon emissions are considered over
time. Accordingly, biomass, a key
input parameter for the model, is
related to wood density, which at
the stand level is closely related to
species distribution and occurrence.
Nogueira et al. presented values for
wood density, in the southern and
southwestern Brazilian Amazon [34] ,
being 7% lower than prior numbers
proposed for Amazon forests [35].
The findings of Nogueira et al.,
extrapolated to the region, suggest
that the calculation of gross carbon
emissions from deforestation in the
Amazon should be reduced by 6.38–
6.72 TgC.y-1 . For this extrapolation,
these authors used 1990 as the base
year and 13.800 km2 of clear-cut
deforestation. If we take into account
the annual flux of carbon from
deforestation and abandonment of
14,896 14,896
17,383 17,259
18,226 18,165
Deforestation rate (km2/year)
Figure2. Annual deforestation rate in the Brazilian Amazon. The axes are (X): deforestation rate in km2/year; and
(Y):monitoring period (from 1 August in a year to 31 July in the next year).
Data from [10 3] .
Key terms
Land use change: General term for the
human modication of Earth’s terrestrial
surface. The history of humankind
describes a path of land modication to
obtain food and other essentials.
However, the extents and intensities of
land use changes in the past hundred
years are far greater than ever in history,
driving unprecedented changes in
ecosystems and environmental
processes at local, regional and global
scales. These changes encompass the
greatest environmental concerns of
human populations today, including
climate change, biodiversity loss and
the pollution of water, soils and air,
which are associated to this process.
Carbon emission: The transferring of
carbon from the biosphere to the
atmosphere, naturally through the
carbon cycle and through human
activities, such as the burning of fossil
fuels or biomass. Processes normally
associated to emissions of CO2 or CH4.
Carbon Mana gement (2011) 2(5) future science group
Review Ometto, Aguiar & Martinelli
agricultural lands in the Brazilian
Amazon based on the data presented
above, the reduction in fluxes with
the recalculation of the wood density
would be 3–4% for 1990.
Revisiting the Brazilian GHG
inventory, Cerri et al. compared
emissions from the 1990s to 2000
and 2005 [36 ]. The contribution
of forest and grassland conver-
sion plus emissions and reductions from soils account
for 1030 Mt of CO2-equivalent in 1990. According to
the Brazilian National Communication (MCT, Brazil,
2010), in 2005 the emissions related to land use change
and deforestation (excluding agriculture) was 1323 Tg of
CO2-equivalent, Amazon deforestation being the major
contribution (65% of the total).
Deforestation impacts
The large area and paleoclimatic stability of Amazonian
forests may help explain the high regional- to local-scale
plant and animal species diversity and high ecological
sensitivity to recent anthropogenic land use change [37].
The extraordinary plant density in the Amazon region
comprises more than 50,000 vascular plant species, of
which 30,000–35,000 are endemic [38] , with 500–700
trees per ha [39], not accounting for the fauna (i.e., mam-
mals, birds, reptiles and insects). Considering a mean
amount of trees per hectare and taking into account defor-
estation in 2009, a reduction of more than 600,000,000
trees can be estimated for the Amazon region in 2009.
Habitat fragmentation may directly drive the loss of
bird [4 0] and mammal [11] species through reductions in
population size and an associated increase in the risk of
local extinction through stochastic failure. According
to Peres et al., reporting 32 years of Amazonian forest
fragment studies, edge effects have been a dominant
driver of fragmentation dynamics, strongly affecting,
tree mortality and fauna [41].
The negative impact of local land use change may
also be observed in the bare soil itself, feeding back to
its own microclimate [4 1], when clear-cut deforestation
takes place. According to some studies [42,4 3], change in
the vegetation canopy height alters the temperature and
humidity balance, defining different regional precipita-
tion patterns that can feed back negatively to agricultural
production. However, the reduction of natural vegeta-
tion in deforestation processes can occur in a variety
of ways. The deforestation dynamic includes strategies
used for removing the forest and establishing another
land cover such as velocity and intensity of the processes,
use of fire, commercial extraction of timber and use of
heavy-weight machinery. Depending on the activity
replacing the original forest (pasture, intense agriculture
or subsistence agriculture), deforestation might be
completed in a few months or years. For instance, it is
assumed that all above-ground biomass is completely
lost by burning and clearing of the land for intensive
agriculture [30] . Yet, in clearing for pasture implementa-
tion, which dominates post deforestation rural activity
in the Amazon [17, 29 ] , some trees are left standing and
many stumps and logs persist for decades, retaining car-
bon for a slow transfer to the atmosphere. Therefore, to
better represent dynamic, carbon and biodiversity losses
associated with deforestation, one needs to consider the
set of integrative processes associated with the change of
land cover. Protecting biodiversity in the Amazon shall
also promote: maintaining of core ecosystem functions
(as seed dispersal, pollination, nutrient cycling, tim-
ber and food provision); conservation of headwaters,
watersheds and the hydrological cycles; empowering
indigenous cultures, who live in the region for thou-
sand of year in a low-impact manner; and government
and civil society involvement in the preservation efforts.
According to Borner and Wunder, large-scale changes in
the forest cover in the Amazon can potentially impact
indigenous people and subsistence farmers, since the eco-
nomic value of biodiversity for extractive use of wood,
food and medicines are non-negligible [37]. Poverty and
biodiversity in the Amazon are linked, thus conserving
ecosystem structure and services opens the opportuni-
ties of enhancing local communities’ income by enter-
ing emerging markets for sustainable products, certified
forest and agricultural products, and ecotourism. In a
review article, Sanches states that the management of
natural resources towards mitigation and adaptation
to environmental changes should follow six steps from
identifying and quantifying the extent of rural poverty,
and resource degradation and insecurity of food supply,
to structuring and conducting technological and policy
research on economic and environmental functions, pol-
icy implementation and assessing impacts and providing
feedbacks to the local communities, as well as market
opportunities optimizing the trade-offs between global
environmental benefits and private farmer benefits [44].
However, the Amazon forest provides ecosystem ser-
vices that are manifested beyond the scale of the Amazon
Basin itself [45] . Regional regulation of climate and air
chemistry over large areas of the continent, atmospheric
carbon sequestration, and storage and regulation of water
balance, are recognized feedback between the Amazon
Forest and services to human kind at regional and global
scale [25, 45] .
The Amazon forest as a carbon sink
The spatial-based deforestation model proposed by
Aguiar et al. considers the distribution of the emissions
related to the deforestation dynamic and social/human
Key term
Amazonian: From the geographical
region located in South America, largely
covered by tropical rainforest. The
Amazon Basin, the largest in the world,
denes the limits of the region.
Although most of the basin is located in
Brazil, this area encompasses more than
7 million square kilometers, belonging
to ninenations.
Amazon deforestation in Brazil Review
future science group 579
motivation to deforest, as described earlier in this arti-
cle [31]. These processes are related to social and politi-
cal decisions leading to implementing economic activity
after removing the natural vegetation. This model high-
lights the importance of regional differences in estimat-
ing emissions from tropical forest deforestation, as well as
considering the secondary forest dynamic. The growth of
the secondary forest is also seen as an important mecha-
nism to recuperate the regional ecosystem dynamic, such
as hydrology, energy balance, evapotranspiration, soil
surface properties and biodiversity, but also to mitigate
historical emissions from deforestation [17, 32 , 33 ] . The vari-
ation in regrowth and carbon accumulation in secondary
vegetation varies tremendously throughout the region,
depending on several physical and ecological parameters;
for example, soil type, seed bank, pollination and mean
climate conditions. Accordingly, the secondary vegeta-
tion dynamic depends on several social and economic
drivers associated with the activity following the defor-
estation process in any specific area [10] , as well as climate
patterns and conditions.
The response of the Amazon ecosystem to climate
change might reflect in increased forest biomass, as
suggested by Gloor et al. [7] , considering a positive
response from the vegetation to the increase of CO2 in
the atmosphere. To verify this hypothesis, the authors
analyzed the results of 135 above-ground biomass study
sites (RAINFOR network) [102 ] , mathematically explor-
ing consequences of sampling artifacts in the biomass
results. The data discussed by Gloor et al. [7] corroborate
with Vieira et al., who estimate an increase of carbon sink
in the region [38] , corresponding to approximately 10%
of the global carbon emissions from fossil fuel sources
in 2008 [3] . Overall the basin could be a net source of
more than 1 PgC.y-1, or a net sink as great as 0.5 PgC.y-1.
Reviewing impact of global environmental changes in
the ecology of tropical forest ecology, Lewis et al. sug-
gested that, despite the critical role played by distur-
bance in these regions (i.e., drought related to El Niño
events), it is unlikely that large-scale disturbance be a
major driver of directional changes over large areas of the
tropics and, likewise, in the Amazon [46 ]. Contrastingly,
specific events can be major in regard to carbon emis-
sions. Phillips et al., analyzing the anomalous and
extreme 2005 drought across Amazonia, suggested a
reduction in the biomass increment rate in the order of
0.1 MgC.ha-1, causing a carbon impact of 1.2–1.6 Pg C
in the region [47].
Better future predictions of the coupled climate-
biosphere system depend on reducing the uncertainties
of the GHG balance of tropical land. Current results
vary substantially across different model formulations
in which some remain highly controversial and entirely
ignore land conversion by humans [7] .
Deforestation drivers & challenges
The Amazon Basin is home to more than 25 million
people in Brazil. Whilst the forest area continues to
be reduced, several regional developing programs and
market drivers provide opportunities for the expansion
of the agriculture, logging and urbanization in replacing
the natural vegetation. A great challenge faced by the
region is to maintain the ecosystem services provided by
the pristine forest and its complex ecological processes,
as well as the needs of the growing human population
in the region, as in communities elsewhere [48].T he e co -
system services can be described as natural functions
of the ecosystems. Data on ecosystem services have
informed the establishment of payment for ecosystem
services to manage/preserve ecosystems using economic
incentives [49]. One can consider ecosystem services such
as maintenance of the biodiversity, water cycling, soil
fertility and climatic equilibrium, among other exam-
ples. Therefore, large-scale changes in land cover can
lead to local and regional changes in natural cycles,
due to the interconnectivity of the climatic systems [50] .
At the level of the ecosystem, the biodiversity services
described, such as the genetic bank and species diversity,
are linked to the processes and ecological functioning
described as photosynthesis and food production, wood
production, water cycle through evapotranspiration and
soil percolation, which finally represent services such as
timber, crop pollination and climate moderation. The
flow of solid information will define the economic value
of the service itself (Figure3), which might provide feed-
back for policies toward conservation and restoration of
natural ecosystems.
The drivers on changing land use in the Amazon
are mostly related to economic opportunities. A few
regions, mainly associated with traditional and indig-
enous communities, are still in constant search for soils
capable of sustaining shift cultivation. According to the
etnopedology approach, the decision to establish an
agricultural area by indigenous people is mainly based
on the community location in the landscape and certain
empirical soil characteristics [103 ] , which are followed by
agricultural practices that comprise clearing and burn-
ing of the native forest immediately before planting a
set of separate crops. In general, however, the social
actors affecting the spatial and temporal patterns of
deforestation are highly heterogeneous, including cattle
ranchers, small farmers, capitalized and mechanized
farmers [51], aside from traditional and indigenous com-
munities. The trajectories of land cover change in the
Amazon, in space and time, are shaped by multiple
actors and institutional arrangements, which under dis-
tinct socioeconomic, biophysical and political contexts,
define the patterns of deforestation and ultimately land
use [52] .
Carbon Mana gement (2011) 2(5) future science group
Review Ometto, Aguiar & Martinelli
The Brazi lia n Institute for Geogra phy and
Statistics [1 04 ] and the Brazilian MCT [10 5] officially
identifies pasture as the main land cover in recent
deforested areas, meaning that this is the ma in
economic activity after the natura l vegetation is
depleted. According to Bustamante et al., the area
of pasture in the Brazilian Amazon in 2002 was
245,808.2 km2 [Bustama nte et al.,Unpubli shed Data], rep-
resenting 5.9% of the total biome area and 16.5% of
the total pasture area in Brazil [52]. In order to map
the distribution and consistency of cattle ranching as
the primary activity replacing the original forest in the
Amazon, the Brazilian Ministry of Environment [105]
combined detailed annual deforestation maps from
the PRODES program [101] to IBGE agricultural cen-
sus data (2006) [10 4 ] , using the approach proposed
by Aguiar et al. [53] . These authors obtained num-
bers varying from 60 to 80% of the deforested areas
becoming pasture, depending on the region.
The heterogeneity among regions in Amazonia
defines different patterns of la nd use change and,
therefore, deforestation patterns. Thus the compre-
hension of the underlying social interactions and
institutional arrangements working at different lev-
els is needed to capture the direction, variability, and
extent of land use change in the region [R Ar ajou et al.,
Unpublished Data]. Changes in deforestation rates can be
attributed to a wide range of factors such as macroeco-
nomic shocks to the Brazilian economy and interna-
tional exchange rates [54] , expansion of cattle ranching
and soybean farming [55,56] , agricultural intensifica-
tion, poor technological use in the timber sector, infra-
structural expansion and the proliferation of paved
and unpaved roads [11] , land tenure arrangements and
policy failures [57], structure of the economic basis for
production and market connectivity [10 ] . The factors
above plus environmental conditions explain 83% of
deforestation rates in the Brazilian Amazon. Geist and
Lambin, analyzing 152 deforestation cases in tropi-
cal regions worldwide, observed that more than one-
third of the cases were driven by the full interplay of
economic, institutional, technological, cultural and
demographic variables, highlighting multiple fac-
tors and drivers acting synergistically rather than by
single-factor causation [57] . It is worth pointing out
that in 81% of the studied cases, commercialization
distribution and
)reshwater systems,
forests, estuaries and so on
insects and so on
)Timber production
 $!ium;
Figure3. Flow of processes, services and opportunities.
Data from [63].
Amazon deforestation in Brazil Review
future science group 581
and economic factors are prominent driving forces in
tropical deforestation. The increase in local yield tends
to stimulate agricultural encroachment [58], which is
consistent with the current scenario in which a grow-
ing cash economy constitutes a robust underlying force
to deforestation. The intensification of the agricultural
practices, with the use of state-of-the-art technology
has also been thought to be a mechanism for reduc-
ing deforestation of native vegetation [59] . In contrast,
the socioeconomic debate argues that with the eco-
nomic empowering of the agricultural sector and lack
of regulatory structure, the pressure on neighboring
forests increases [1 3] . According to Vieira et al., one of
the main problems associated with the tropical econ-
omy based on agriculture and cattle raising is territo-
rial planning, since the undefined land situation in
remote locations allows for intense, uncontrolled and
unplanned human intervention [38] . The central and
local governments have an important role to play in
deforestation rates and drivers, either directly, through
investment in regional economic development, or by
inaction of fragile regulatory institutions that do not
enforce land use legislation.
Several publications recommend invoking the
Protected Areas and Indian Reservation as possible
strategies for restricting deforestation expansion [60 ].
According to Ricketts et al., since 2002 the average
probability of deforestation is seven- to 11-times lower
within indigenous lands and other protected areas in
the Brazilian Amazon, than in surrounding areas [61].
Their simulations suggest that the protected areas
established between 2003 and 2007 in this region
could prevent 272,000 km2 of deforestation through
to 2050, which would have an important impact on
carbon emission mitigation. However, forest fire moni-
toring programs using satellite techniques [106] have
identified an increase of fires concentrated within con-
servation areas in the Amazon, which has also been
analyzed by Schroeder et al. [62]. Anthropogenic fires
in protected areas may lead to forest degradation, eco-
system fragmentation and loss of biodiversity. This
program allows online, updated, open-source verifica-
tion of the forest fire dynamics in the Amazon region,
also being an important mechanism for environmental
control and policy implementation.
The Brazilian government has recently proposed a
plan to reduce deforestation rates in the Amazon, as
part of the country’s voluntary commitments to the
UN Framework Convention on Climate Change car-
bon emissions reduction. The plan consists of reduc-
tion targets based on a 10-year deforestation rate,
from 1995 to 2004. For each 5-year interva l, from
2006 until 2020, the plan aims to reduce the emis-
sions by 37, 36 and 34% , respectively. In this plan, the
total predicted reduction for the entire region is of the
order of 80% of the initial mean (i.e., 19,500 km2). To
this end, we believe that regionally distinct strategies
and regulatory guidelines are needed for infrastruc-
ture improvement, as well as agriculture and timber
extract ion expansion. The achievements from the
actions toward this plan can be expressed in numbers.
From 2004 to 2009 the deforestation rate decreased
75% in the Ama zon region, which represents more
than 60% reduction below the 10-year average, which
places Brazil in a good position in relation to the
country pledge for the UN Framework Convention
on Climate Change. Two reasons for the substantial
reduction is the well-established land cover-monitor-
ing system and the implementation of on-the-ground
inspection policies. Nevertheless, f ur ther analyses
are needed to better understand the means in place
to achieve the reduction in deforestation rates and
the consistence toward the f uture. Mechanisms as
‘Reducing Carbon Emissions from Deforestation and
Forest Degradation’ shall rely on historical observed
deforestation estimates at regiona l level, looking to
local dynamics, but are potentially an important com-
ponent of a basin-wide conservation strategy. Other
opportunities, carried at National level, as Reducing
Carbon Emissions from Deforestation and Forest
Degradation plus (a portfolio that takes GHG emis-
sions beyond deforestation and forest degradation),
can be ef fective in forest conservation. These UN
mechanisms include the role of conservation, sustain-
able management of forests and enhancement of forest
carbon stocks [10 7] . However, we do not see a unique
policy for controlling deforestation in the Amazon,
thus local-scale institutional actors should play a cru-
cial role in this planning, concurrently with a close
examination of national economic/market oppor-
tunities and challenges. Currently, there remains a
significant lack of understanding of tropical forest
responses to the increase of CO2 concentration in the
atmosphere, although a great deal of data have been
gathered in the past 20 years. For example, regional
models are more representative today than a few years
ago; atmospheric physical processes are more accu-
rately represented; hydrology and biosphere–atmos-
phere interaction studies have provided new insights
to understanding ecosystem functioning; and the con-
struction of climatic scenarios are more well defined.
However, further studies are greatly needed, especially
in dealing with such a complex environment, where
an unknown portion of its biodiversity is yet to be
discovered. Understanding of the impact of land use
cha nge on the Amazon ecosystem functioning has
also advanced but, again, the intense dynamic of the
change on the use of land raises questions that remain
Carbon Mana gement (2011) 2(5) future science group
Review Ometto, Aguiar & Martinelli
to be answered related to synergistic factors, feedback,
biodiversity loss, nutrient cycling, environmental, bio-
physical and biogeochemical processes. Likewise, a
deeper understand of deforestation drivers has been
attained in recent years. Nevertheless, social and
econometric models need to be further developed to
further clarif y local, regional and global drivers of
land use change in the region.
Future perspective
The ha rmonization of economic development a nd
social expectations, alongside with environmental
preservation, are the essence of sustainability. The
grail effort of a substantial portion of the scientific
community is on constructing scenarios for the plan-
et’s ecological and physical functioning in the face of
different possible courses of human actions, which
is seen as means of guiding initiatives contributing
to a sustainable presence of humanity on Earth. The
maintenance of pristine forested areas in the Amazon
presents a unique strategic opportunity to preserve an
enormous and immeasurably valuable genetic bank
and mitigate potentially catastrophic climatic change.
Few regions in the world present terrestrial ecosystems
with such combined potential, allowing nations in the
Tropics to develop new relations with their natural
resources and services, framing potential reduction
of poverty while promoting sustainable development.
The authors acknowledge D Valeriano, R Araújo and G Câmara
for insightful discussions.
Financial & competing interests disclosure
The authors acknowledge the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento
Científico e Tecnológico for research funding support. The authors
have no other relevant affiliations or financial involvement with any
organization or entity with a financial interest in or financial conflict
with the subject matter or materials discussed in the manuscript
apart from those disclosed.
The authors acknowledge AcademicEnglish for
revising the English.
Executive summary
The Amazon region in Brazil in relation to carbon stocks and uxes is briey presented.
In addition, there are questions related to the fate of the Amazon ecosystem facing climate change and direct human activities.
Amazon deforestation
Until 1970, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon totaled approximately 98,000km2, whilst in the last 40years (1970–2009) the deforested
area totaled 730,000km2, encompassing approximately 18% of the areas originally covered by primary vegetation.
The National Institute for Space Research provides deforestation numbers through the ‘PRODES’ system.
Carbon emissions due to deforestation
The estimates of sources and sinks in terrestrial ecosystems are not trivial, but are critical for a better understanding of the anthropogenic
contribution to the increase of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere.
According to the Brazilian National Communication (Ministry of Science and Technology, Brazil, 2010), in 2005 the emissions related to
land use change and deforestation (excluding agriculture) was 1323Tg of CO2-equivalent, with Amazon deforestation being the major
contributor (accounting to 65% of the total).
Biodiversity losses
With 500 –700 trees per ha, the Amazon region comprises more than 50,000 vascular plant species, of which 30,000–35,000 areendemic.
Considering a mean amount of trees per hectare and taking into account deforestation in 2009, a reduction of more than 600,000,000
trees can be estimated for the Amazon region in that year.
Furthermore, the diverse fauna (mammals, birds, reptiles and insects species) are highly threaten by deforestation.
Protecting biodiversity in the Amazon shall also promote: maintaining of core ecosystem functions; conservation of headwaters,
watersheds and the hydrological cycles; empowering indigenous cultures; and having the government and civil society involvement in the
preservation eorts.
The Amazon forest as a carbon sink
Overall, the basin could be a net source of more than 1PgC.y-1 or a net sink by the pristine forest in the region, as great as 0.5PgC.y-1.
Deforestation drivers & challenges
The trajectories of land cover change in the Amazon, in space and time, are shaped by multiple actors and institutional arrangements,
which under distinct socioeconomic, biophysical and political contexts, dene the patterns of deforestation, and ultimately land use.
Thus, the comprehension of the underlying social interactions working at dierent levels is needed to capture the direction, variabilit y and
extent of the land use changes occurring in the region.
The major drivers for deforestation can be attributed to a wide range of factors such as macroeconomic drivers, expansion of cattle
ranching and soybean farming, agricultural intensication, poor technological use in the timber sector, market connectivity, infrastructural
expansion and the proliferation of paved and unpaved roads, land tenure arrangements and policy failures.
Therefore, a unique policy for controlling deforestation in the Amazon is not realistic. Local-scale institutional actors should play a
crucial role in planning the land use and conservation strategies, concurrently with a close examination of national economic/market
opportunities and challenges.
Amazon deforestation in Brazil Review
future science group 583
Papers of special note have been highlighted as:
 of interest
 of considerable interest
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 Rev iews cha nge s in the A mazon
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 Amazon forest response to the intense
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 Examines sc enarios of deforestation and
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... Deforestation across the Amazon Basin and the Brazilian AF has reached 17 and 20%, respectively [6], with approximately 60% of the deforested Brazilian AF having been converted to pastures [7,8]. Finer and Vila [5] predict patterns where human-induced fires in cleared AF lands in wet seasons will be followed by fires in adjacent standing AF in the dryer periods. ...
Full-text available
Slash-and-burn of Amazon Forest (AF) for pasture establishment has increased the occurrence of AF wildfires. Recent studies emphasize soil organic matter (SOM) molecular composition as a principal driver of post-fire forest regrowth and restoration of AF anti-wildfire ambience. Nevertheless, SOM chemical shifts caused by AF fires and post-fire vegetation are rarely investigated at a molecular level. We employed pyrolysis–gas chromatography–mass spectrometry to reveal molecular changes in SOM (0–10, 40–50 cm depth) of a slash-burn-and-20-month-regrowth AF (BAF) and a 23-year Brachiaria pasture post-AF fire (BRA) site compared to native AF (NAF). In BAF (0–10 cm), increased abundance of unspecific aromatic compounds (UACs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and lipids (Lip) coupled with a depletion of polysaccharides (Pol) revealed strong lingering effects of fire on SOM. This occurs despite fresh litter deposition on soil, suggesting SOM minimal recovery and toxicity to microorganisms. Accumulation of recalcitrant compounds and slow decomposition of fresh forest material may explain the higher carbon content in BAF (0–5 cm). In BRA, SOM was dominated by Brachiaria contributions. At 40–50 cm, alkyl and hydroaromatic compounds accumulated in BRA, whereas UACs accumulated in BAF. UACs and PAH compounds were abundant in NAF, possibly air-transported from BAF.
... Thus, the change in deforestation rates and area can be attributed to a variety of factors, including the expansion of cattle ranching and soybean farming (Margulis, 2004), intensification of agricultural use (Garcia et al., 2019), expansion of infrastructure and road construction (Soares-Filho et al., 2006), as well as macroeconomic developments in the Brazilian economy and international exchange rates (Ewers et al., 2008), structure of the economic base for production and market connectivity (Aguiar et al., 2007), and land tenure and policy failures (Geist and Lambin, 2002). These factors, together with environmental conditions, explain 83% of deforestation rates in Amazonia (Ometto et al., 2011). ...
Full-text available
The purpose of this second Hamburg Climate Futures Outlook is to systematically analyze and assess the plausibility of certain well-defined climate futures based on present knowledge of social drivers and physical processes. In particular, we assess the plausibility of those climate futures that are envisioned by the 2015 Paris Agreement, namely holding global warming to well below 2°C and, if possible, to 1.5°C, relative to pre-industrial levels (UNFCCC 2015, Article 2 paragraph 1a). The world will have to reach a state of deep decarbonization by 2050 to be compliant with the 1.5°C goal. We therefore work with a climate future scenario that combines emissions and temperature goals.
... However, they have suffered global losses estimated at 420 million hectares since the 1990s (FAO and UNEP, 2020) due to degradation processes and land-use conversion. The Amazon Forest suffers from this problem, with deforestation and forest fires as the main elements of degradation and transformation of the forest into other uses (Ometto, Aguiar and Martinelli, 2011;dos Reis et al., 2021). ...
Full-text available
O período entre 2018 e 2022 mostrou-nos que o problema dos incêndios à escala global não está a diminuir, antes pelo contrário. Parece que as consequências das alterações climáticas já estão a afectar a ocorrência de incêndios florestais em várias partes do Mundo, de uma forma que só esperaríamos que acontecesse vários anos mais tarde. Em muitos países do Sul da Europa, bem como em algumas regiões dos EUA, Canadá e Austrália, onde estamos habituados a enfrentar a presença de incêndios muito grandes e devastadores, continuamos a ter eventos que quebram recordes. Alguns países, como os da Europa Central e do Norte, que não estavam habituados a ter grandes incêndios, experimentaram-nos durante estes anos. Os anos anteriores foram muito exigentes para todo o Mundo, também noutros aspectos que nos afectaram a todos. Referimo-nos às restrições impostas pela pandemia que limitaram as nossas reuniões e viagens, afectando em muitos casos a saúde dos membros da Comunidade Científica Wildfire. Felizmente, conseguimos encontrar novas formas de comunicação, ultrapassar essas limitações e manter-nos em contacto uns com os outros. Durante semanas e meses, para muitos de nós, as reuniões pessoais e o trabalho de grupo foram substituídos por ligações em linha. Apesar da economia de dinheiro e tempo, e da facilidade de reunir uma grande variedade de pessoas que estas reuniões desde que nos apercebêssemos de que não substituem as reuniões presenciais, que trazem consigo outras dimensões inestimáveis, que fazem parte da comunicação pessoal e ajudam a construir uma comunidade científica.
... Underlying drivers are factors that affect human actions (IPBES 2019), such as lack of governance and variation in both the price of commodities and the price of land (Brandão et al. 2020;Garrett et al. 2013;Nepstad et al. 2014). Conversely, direct drivers represent the human actions that impact nature (IPBES 2019), including the expansion of pastures and croplands, opening of new roads, construction of hydroelectric dams, or exploitation of minerals and oil (Fearnside 2016;Ometto et al. 2011;Sonter et al. 2017). Drivers often act simultaneously, making it very difficult to quantify their individual impacts. ...
This Report provides a comprehensive, objective, open, transparent, systematic, and rigorous scientific assessment of the state of the Amazon’s ecosystems, current trends, and their implications for the long-term well-being of the region, as well as opportunities and policy relevant options for conservation and sustainable development.
... Deforestation in Brazil is generally the main sector associated with greenhouse gas emissions (Ometto et al., 2011;Silva et al., 2021). Land use changes in the Amazon account for about 66.7% of forest carbon emissions to the atmosphere during non-dry years, according to Aragão et al. (2014) using mathematical modeling. ...
The easternmost Amazon, located in the Maranhão State, in Brazil, has suffered massive deforestation in recent years, which has devastated almost 80% of the original vegetation. We aim to characterize hot spots, hot moments, atmospheric carbon dioxide anomalies (Xco2, ppm), and their interactions with climate and vegetation indices in eastern Amazon, using data from NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2). The study covered the period from January 2015 to December 2018. The data were subjected to regression, correlation, and temporal analysis, identifying the spatial distribution of hot/cold moments and hot/cold spots. In addition, anomalies were calculated to identify potential CO2 sources and sinks. Temporal changes indicate atmospheric Xco2 in the range from 362.2 to 403.4 ppm. Higher Xco2 values (hot moments) were concentrated between May and September, with some peaks in December. The lowest values (cold moments) were concentrated from November to April. SIF 771 W m⁻² sr⁻¹ μm⁻¹ explained the temporal changes of Xco2 in 58% (R² adj = 0.58; p < 0.001) and precipitation in 27% (R² adj = 0.27; p ≤ 0.001). Spatial hot spots with 90% confidence were more representative in 2016. The maximum and minimum Xco2 (ppm) anomalies were 6.19 ppm (source) and −6.29 ppm (sink), respectively. We conclude that the hot moments of Xco2 in the eastern Amazon rainforest are concentrated in the dry season of the year. Xco2 spatial hot spots and anomalies are concentrated in the southern region and close to protected areas of the Amazon rainforest.
... There are no obvious warming signals in the northwest of the forest area based on the four satellite-based products, but the southeast of the forest area experienced significantly warming trends. The southeast part of the tropical rainforest is a deforestation zone called the "arc of deforestation" [23]. Ts warming signals from our result are spatially consistent with "arc of deforestation". ...
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A better understanding of the relationship between land surface temperature (Ts) and near-surface air temperature (Ta) is crucial for improving the simulation accuracy of climate models, developing retrieval schemes for soil and vegetation moisture, and estimating large-scale Ta from satellite-based Ts observations. In this study, we investigated the relationship between multiple satellite-based Ts products, derived from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) onboard Aqua satellite, and Ta from 204 meteorological stations over Brazil during 2003–2016. Monthly satellite-based Ts products used in this study include: (1) AIRS Version 6 with 1° spatial resolution, (2) AIRS Version 7 with 1° spatial resolution, (3) MODIS Collection 6 with 0.05° spatial resolution, and (4) MODIS Collection 6 with 1° spatial resolution re-sampled from (3) for a direct comparison with AIRS products. We found that satellite-based Ts is lower than Ta over the forest area, but higher than Ta over the non-forest area. Nevertheless, the correlation coefficients (R) between monthly Ta and four Ts products during 2003–2016 are greater than 0.8 over most stations. The long-term trend analysis shows a general warming trend in temperatures, particularly over the central and eastern parts of Brazil. The satellite products could also observe the increasing Ts over the deforestation region. Furthermore, we examined the temperature anomalies during three drought events in the dry season of 2005, 2010, and 2015. All products show similar spatio-temporal patterns, with positive temperature anomalies expanding in areal coverage and magnitude from the 2005 to 2015 event. The above results show that satellite-based Ts is sensitive in reflecting environmental changes such as deforestation and extreme climatic events, and can be used as an alternative to Ta for climatological studies. Moreover, the observed differences between Ts and Ta may inform how thermal assumptions can be improved in satellite-based retrievals of soil and vegetation moisture or evapotranspiration.
... Deforestation in Brazil is generally the main sector associated with greenhouse gas emissions (Ometto et al., 2011;Silva Junior et al., 2021). Land use changes in the Amazon account for about 66.7% of forest carbon emissions to the atmosphere during non-dry years, according to Aragão et al. (2014) using mathematical modeling. ...
This chapter examines environmental aspects of ESG and risks and opportunities for using big data (BD) and artificial intelligence (AI) to capture these in ESG ratings. It starts by outlining the difference between relative and absolute sustainability and what this means for delivering on globally agreed upon targets, such as the Sustainable Development Goals. We then look at what the state-of-the-art climate and Earth System science has to offer investors interested in absolute environmental sustainability. Next, we discuss the risks associated with a blurring of concepts relating to sustainability and materiality, and examine and contrast conventional ESG rating procedures with new approaches informed by BD and AI to understand what this new generation of tools can offer investors interested in sustainability. We note a current misalignment between stated ambitions of investors, and the ability to deliver on stated goals through the use of current ESG metrics and ratings. We therefore finish with suggestions for how to better align these and how those interested in ESG can become more ‘sustainability savvy’ consumers of such ratings.
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Territorial management in the Amazon region of Brazil presents important challenges for the coming years, considering the unresolved problems of the main government instrument, the Economic Ecological Zoning of the EEZ, and the changes that are taking place in this territory. The EEZ is an instrument that has been applied at different scales for more than 30 years, but it has not been able to overcome the problems related to the diverse and profound pressures on the environment and the poor quality of the social and economic development of the population. In this sense, the article presents, based on its own experiences, government information and data and interviews with managers who worked in the elaboration of the EEZ, a reflection on the main obstacles resulting from the implementation of the EEZ and the changes in the development processes in the region (increasing demand for energy, economic production based on natural resources, climate change). Finally, possible ways of overcoming these challenges are presented, considering methodological guidelines, governance and ways of social participation.
Exposure to ambient temperature has been linked to adverse birth outcomes in several regions, including the USA, Australia, China, countries in the Middle East, and European countries. To date, no studies were performed in South America, a region with serious challenges related to climate change. Our investigation addresses this literature lack by examining the association between Low Birth Weight (LBW) and ambient temperature exposure in the largest county in South America, Brazil. We applied a nationwide case-control study design using a logistic regression model to estimate the odds ratio (OR) for LBW associated with ambient temperature during a specific trimester of pregnancy (1–3 trimester). Our sample size includes 5,790,713 birth records nationwide over 18 years (2001–2018), of which 264,967 infants were included in the model as cases of LBW, representing 4.6% of our total sample. We adjusted our model for several confounding variables, including weather factors, air pollution, seasonality, and SES variables at the individual level. Our findings indicate that North was the only region with positive and statistically significant associations in the primary analysis and most of the sensitivity analysis, which is the region where the Amazon is located. In this region, we estimated an increase of 5.16% (95%CI: 3.60; 6.74) in the odds of LBW per 1 °C increase in apparent temperature when the exposure occurred in the second trimester. Our results may be explained by the climate conditions in the Amazon region in the past years. A large body of literature indicates that the Amazon region has been facing serious climate challenges including issues related to policy, governance, and deforestation. Specifically, regarding deforestation, it is suggested that land use change and deforestation is projected to increase heat stress in the Amazon region, because of Amazon savannization, increasing the risk of heat stress exposure in Northern Brazil. Our study can assist public sectors and clinicians in mitigating the risk and vulnerability of the Amazonian population.
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Amazon forests are a key but poorly understood component of the global carbon cycle. If, as anticipated, they dry this century, they might accelerate climate change through carbon losses and changed surface energy balances. We used records from multiple long-term monitoring plots across Amazonia to assess forest responses to the intense 2005 drought, a possible analog of future events. Affected forest lost biomass, reversing a large long-term carbon sink, with the greatest impacts observed where the dry season was unusually intense. Relative to pre-2005 conditions, forest subjected to a 100-millimeter increase in water deficit lost 5.3 megagrams of aboveground biomass of carbon per hectare. The drought had a total biomass carbon impact of 1.2 to 1.6 petagrams (1.2 × 1015 to 1.6 × 1015 grams). Amazon forests therefore appear vulnerable to increasing moisture stress, with the potential for large carbon losses to exert feedback on climate change.
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[1] In the last two decades, the strong increase of pasturelands over former rainforest areas has raised concerns about the climate change that such change in land cover might cause. In recent years, though, expansion of soybean croplands has been increasingly important in the agricultural growth in Amazonia. In this paper we use the climate model CCM3 to investigate whether the climate change due to soybean expansion in Amazonia would be any different from the one due to pastureland expansion. The land component of the model has been updated with new findings from the Large-Scale Biosphere Experiment in Amazonia (LBA), and a new soybean micrometeorological experiment in Amazonia. Results show that the decrease in precipitation after a soybean extension is significantly higher when compared to the change after a pastureland extension, a consequence of the very high albedo of the soybean.
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TheBrazilian Amazon is one of themost rapidly developing agricultural areas in the world and represents a potentially large future source of greenhouse gases from land clearing and subsequent agricultural management. In an integrated approach, we estimate the greenhouse gas dynamics of natural ecosystems and agricultural ecosystems after clearing in the context of a future climate. We examine scenarios of deforestation and postclearing land use to estimate the future (2006–2050) impacts on carbon dioxide (CO₂), methane (CH₄), and nitrous oxide (N₂O) emissions from the agricultural frontier state of Mato Grosso, using a process-based biogeochemistry model, the Terrestrial Ecosystems Model (TEM). We estimate a net emission of greenhouse gases from Mato Grosso, ranging from 2.8 to 15.9 Pg CO₂-equivalents (CO₂-e) from 2006 to 2050. Deforestation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions over this period, but land uses following clearing account for a substantial portion (24–49%) of the net greenhouse gas budget. Due to land-cover and land-use change, there is a small foregone carbon sequestration of 0.2–0.4 Pg CO₂-e by natural forests and cerrado between 2006 and 2050. Both deforestation and future land-use management play important roles in the net greenhouse gas emissions of this frontier, suggesting that both should be considered in emissions policies. We find that avoided deforestation remains the best strategy for minimizing future greenhouse gas emissions from Mato Grosso.
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State-of-the-art socioeconomic scenarios of land-cover change in the Amazon basin for the years 2030 and 2050 are used together with the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS) to simulate the hydrometeorological changes caused by deforestation in that region under diverse climatological conditions that include both El Niño and La Niña events. The basin-averaged rainfall progressively decreases with the increase of deforestation from 2000 to 2030, 2050, and so on, to total deforestation by the end of the twenty-first century. Furthermore, the spatial distribution of rainfall is significantly affected by both the land-cover type and topography. While the massively deforested region experiences an important decrease of precipitation, the areas at the edge of that region and at elevated regions receive more rainfall. Propa- gating squall lines over the massively deforested region dissipate before reaching the western part of the basin, causing a significant decrease of rainfall that could result in a catastrophic collapse of the ecosystem in that region. The basin experiences much stronger precipitation changes during El Niño events as defor- estation increases. During these periods, deforestation in the western part of the basin induces a very significant decrease of precipitation. During wet years, however, deforestation has a minor overall impact on the basin climatology.
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Reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) is considered a significant mitigation opportunity. Forest loss in the Brazilian Amazon has traditionally been highest in the world and, thus, represents a likely target for future REDD initiatives. The paper presents an ex-ante assessment of the potential REDD costs in two of the three largest states in the Brazilian Amazon using official land use and cover change statistics. The two states, Mato Grosso and Amazonas, historically feature largely different land use dynamics. The findings focus on the opportunity costs of REDD and suggest that at least 1 million ha of projected deforestation in Mato Grosso and Amazonas could be compensated for at current carbon prices until 2017. Total costs may differ between US$ 330 million and over US$ 1 billion depending on how payment mechanisms are designed. Implications of payment scheme design for the political economy of REDD are discussed.
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Various land-use transitions in the tropics contribute to atmospheric carbon emissions, including forest conversion for small-scale farming, cattle ranching, and production of commodities such as soya and palm oil. These transitions involve fire as an effective and inexpensive means for clearing. We applied the DECAF (DEforestation CArbon Fluxes) model to Mato Grosso, Brazil to estimate fire emissions from various land-use transitions during 2001-2005. Fires associated with deforestation contributed 67 Tg C/yr (17 and 50 Tg C/yr from conversion to cropland and pasture, respectively), while conversion of savannas and existing cattle pasture to cropland contributed 17 Tg C/yr and pasture maintenance fires 6 Tg C/yr. Large clearings (>100 ha/yr) contributed 67% of emissions but comprised only 10% of deforestation events. From a policy perspective, results imply that intensification of agricultural production on already-cleared land and policies to discourage large clearings would reduce the major sources of emissions from fires in this region.
The worldwide concern with deforestation of Brazilian Amazonia is motivated not only by the irreversible loss of this natural wealth, but also by the perception that it is a destructive process in which the social and economic gains are smaller than the environmental losses. This perception also underlies the diagnosis, formulation and evaluation of public policies proposed by government and non-governmental organizations working in the region, including the World Bank. The present work suggests that a fuller understanding is necessary with regard to the motivations and identity of the agents responsible for deforestation, the evaluation of the social and economic benefits from the process and the resulting implications of public policies for the region. The objective of the report is to show that, in contrast to the 1970s and 1980s when occupation of Brazilian Amazonia was largely induced by government policies and subsidies, recent deforestation in significant parts of the region is basically caused by medium- and large-scale cattle ranching. Following a private rationale, the dynamics of the occupation process gradually became autonomous, as is suggested by the significant increase in deforestation in the 1990s despite the substantial reduction of subsidies and incentives by government. Among the causes of the transformation are technological and managerial changes and the adaptation of cattle ranching to the geo-ecological conditions of eastern Amazonia which allowed for productivity gains and cost reductions. The fact that cattle ranching is viable from the private perspective does not mean that the activity is socially desirable or environmentally sustainable. Private gain needs to be contrasted with the environmental (social) costs associated with cattle ranching and deforestation. From the social perspective, it is legitimate to argue that the private benefits from large-scale cattle ranching are largely exclusive, having contributed little to alleviate social and economic inequalities. The study notes, however, that decreases in the price of beef in national markets and increases in exports caused by the expansion of cattle ranching in Eastern Amazonia may imply social benefits that go beyond sectoral and regional boundaries. From an environmental perspective, despite the uncertainties of valuation, the limited evidence available suggests that the costs of deforestation may be extremely high and possibly exceed private benefits from cattle ranching, particularly when the uncertainties of irreversible losses of genetic heritage (not yet fully understood) are incorporated. In this respect, activities such as sustainable forest management should be considered environmentally and socially superior. However, new policy instruments, funding mechanisms and monitoring and enforcement structures (that are difficult to implement) will be needed to make sustainable forest management a feasible alternative and to make ranchers internalize the environmental costs of their activities. The key policy recommendations of the study are: (i) to acknowledge the private logic of the present occupation process of Brazilian Amazonia; (ii) to change the focus of policies towards cattle ranchers as the key driving force of deforestation, recognizing their interests and private economic gains; (iii) given the lack of knowledge about environmental costs and the uncertainties associated with the irreversiblity of present decisions, to formulate policies aimed at halting further expansion of the frontier in those areas which are still unaffected and encourage intensification of agriculture and cattle ranching in areas undergoing consolidation. This study aims to stimulate and provide inputs to the debate on these themes, particularly between the government and the main agents of deforestation identified here (especially medium and large ranchers).
Past studies have indicated that deforestation of the Amazon basin would result in an important rainfall decrease in that region but that this process had no significant impact on the global temperature or precipitation and had only local implications. Here it is shown that deforestation of tropical regions sig- nificantly affects precipitation at mid- and high latitudes through hydrometeorological teleconnections. In particular, it is found that the deforestation of Amazonia and Central Africa severely reduces rainfall in the lower U.S. Midwest during the spring and summer seasons and in the upper U.S. Midwest during the winter and spring, respectively, when water is crucial for agricultural productivity in these regions. Deforestation of Southeast Asia affects China and the Balkan Peninsula most significantly. On the other hand, the elimination of any of these tropical forests considerably enhances summer rainfall in the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. The combined effect of deforestation of these three tropical regions causes a significant decrease in winter precipitation in California and seems to generate a cumulative enhancement of precipi- tation during the summer in the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula.