Fighting deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon
Amazon Region Protected Areas (ARPA)
This article was originally written by Natsuko Utsumi for World Bank’s web site.
The Brazilian Amazon
The Amazon occupies almost half of Brazil’s territory and constitutes a major part of the world’s tropical forest: around 4.1 million square kilometers of forest are in Brazil alone, or 1/3 of the world’s tropical forests. The Amazon encompasses more than a thousand rivers that form the Amazon River Basin, an area of 7.3 million square kilometers. The Amazon is rich in natural resources, especially fresh water and forests, as well as large reserves of oil and raw materials for medicine, cosmetics, and food.
Although a considerable number of the world’s flora and fauna remain undiscovered, scientists estimate that the Brazilian Amazon contains 1/5 of the world’s biodiversity, home to more than 200 species of mammals, 950 birds, 2,000 fish, 2.5 million insects, and 30,000 plant species, many of which are unique to the Amazon.
The Amazon wildlife shares this huge territory with over 30 million people, including more than 220 indigenous groups in the Brazilian Amazon alone. Behind this incredible cultural diversity lies a bleak reality: despite living in an area with a bewildering array of natural products and services, many of the local people remain in poverty.
Forest clearing of the resource rich Brazilian Amazon has been increasing, with particularly high rates of deforestation occurring in 2002 and 2003. Two driving forces of deforestation have been expanding cattle ranching and soy bean production resulting from increased commodity prices.
According to the WWF and Institute of Space Research (INPE), 697 thousands sq km of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest biome already disappeared by 2005, representing 17.1% of the forest. On average, 18 thousand square kilometers are destroyed every year.
Not all the impacts of deforestation are completely fathomable, however, some of the main aspects are Loss of biodiversity: leading to the extinction of many species; Habitat degradation: new highways that are provided for settlers and loggers to reach the heart of the Amazon Basin are causing widespread fragmentation of rainforests; Loss of water cycling: deforestation reduces the critical water cycling provided by trees;
Social impact: with reduced forests, people, particularly indigenous to the region, are less able to benefit from the natural resources on which their livelihoods depend thereby resulting in poverty and often relocation; and Modified global climate: deforestation (including slashing and burning) not only reduces the forests’ ability to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) but detrimentally increases the production of CO2. The forest is believed to sink close to 120 billion tons of carbon that are essential for the mitigation of climatic change.
The Fight against Deforestation
“Despite the enormous complexities and setbacks involved in ensuring the sustainable use and protection of the world’s largest forest, bigger than the whole of Western Europe, Brazil has shown clear commitment and has achieved much.” World Bank Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean, Pamela Cox says.
Brazil has already set aside 25 percent of its territory (over 2 million sq km) as areas for protection, through the creation of roughly 100 million hectares of federal, state, and municipal protected areas and the demarcation of an equivalent area as indigenous lands.
The ten-year Amazon Region Protected Areas (ARPA) program is creating a system of protected areas encompassing some 500,000 sq km (12%)–an area greater than the entire U.S. National Park System. Four years into the program, 135,000 sq km of new federal and state strict nature protection areas have been created–such as the magnificent 35,000 sq km Tumucumaque Mountains National Park. An 80,000 sq km of existing parks, covering an area larger than the United Kingdom, are being included under the program.
ARPA, the largest initiative to protect tropical forests in history, was signed during the Johannesburg summit in 2002 to promote the land use planning and management through the creation and consolidation of protected areas. ARPA is an initiative of the Brazilian Government executed by the Environmental Ministry and Ibama with help from an alliance between the WWF and the World Bank,, BEF (Global Environmental Facility), PPG-7 and KFW.
➢ The goal is to triple the extent of the protection/conservation area of the Brazilian Amazon, aiming at protecting 500,000 square kilometers (12%) of Amazon forests over ten years (2002-2012).
➢ The program will also establish, for the first time in Brazil, an endowment fund whose income will be used to finance the costs of managing and protecting these areas. .
➢ The program has a ten-year time frame for the disbursement of $395 million.
➢ There are three basic lines of action:
(1) creation and implementation of new strict protection areas,
(2) consolidation of existing strict protection areas, and
(3) creation of new extractive reserves and sustainable development areas.
With ARPA, for the first time, deforestation is not treated solely as an environmental problem, but is mainstreamed into all sectors of policy.
Extractive Reserves and people
On November of 2004, Brazilian presidential decrees created two Extractive Reserves, the “Riozinho do Anfrísio” (7,360 sq km) and the “Verde Para Sempre” (12,800 sq km) These Reserves are two examples of the concrete results achieved by the Amazon Region Protected Areas Program (ARPA).
“The first positive aspect of creating an Extractive Reserve is to ensure the use of that area for its residents”, explained Adriana Moreira, manager of the ARPA Program at the World Bank. These two Reserves in the state of Pará, in the Brazilian Amazon, has benefited nearly 2,600 families who now have their natural resources and land use rights protected.
The “Riozinho do Anfrísio” Extractive Reserve is located in the municipality of Altamira, in the region known as “Terra do Meio” (Middle Land), between the Altamira National Forest and the “Xipaya” and “Cachoeira Seca do Iriri” Indigenous Lands. About 50 families in the region make a living from the production of chestnut, rubber, copaiba and crabtree oil.
Located in the municipality of Porto de Moz, the “Verde para Sempre” Extractive Reserve has a population of some 2,500 families.
Another example of the progress Brazil has made is that today 15 percent of wood extraction in the country is through good forest management techniques, while fifteen years ago sustainable forest management was virtually zero. The activities carried out in this area will raise the share of sustainable supply to about half of the current demand for timber from the region. These efforts provide both income and jobs for forest people while reducing environmental impact.
“The World Bank supports Brazil efforts in these areas through a broad package of financial and non financial services, including state level investment which will contribute to economic growth while strengthening best practices for sustainable use of natural resources,” said Pamela Cox.