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Positive Incentives May be the Key to Slowing Amazon Deforestation

Jun 25, 2014 02:04 PM EDT
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According to the most recent study, Brazilian Amazon deforestation has slowed, and scientists believe that using positive incentives may be the key to this progress.
(Photo : Reuters)

According to the most recent study, Brazilian Amazon deforestation has slowed, and scientists believe that using positive incentives may be the key to this progress.

"The challenge now is to build upon this progress," the team reported in news release. "Some immediate and simple positive incentives for responsible, low-deforestation farmers could be established without major new policies or markets for ecosystem services."

Suggestions include simplified regulatory requirements or discounts on environmental licensing procedures, better terms on pre-harvest packages from product suppliers, and lower interest rates or better terms on bank loans for legally compliant landholders.

As reported in a recent Nature World News article, the Brazilian government is taking a stand against deforestation in other ways, too. In a major new conservation effort, they created a $215 million fund to ensure long-term protection of the Amazon rainforest.

While this initiative may help in managing and monitoring a whopping 15 million acres of land, deforestation still remains a problem.

"Deforestation is only one of the threats to the Amazon region," said Leandro Castello, co-author and assistant professor of fish and wildlife conservation at Virginia Tech.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, each year the Amazon loses forests the size of the state of Delaware. This land is valuable, the organization writes, to the health of our planet - it contains 90-140 billion metric tons of carbon, preventing it from being released as greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.

Unfortunately, this benefit goes out the window when forests are cut down and release all of this trapped carbon.

While we know that human activity such as deforestation is a major problem, another related NWN article points out that our impact on this vast region is grossly underestimated. A report detailed in the journal Global Change Biology says that selective logging and surface wildfires can amount to an annual loss of 54 billion tons of carbon from the Brazilian Amazon - that's equivalent to 40 percent of the yearly carbon loss from deforestation.

Deforestation is usually the public's main focus, but other damaging factors are also at play and need to be considered. Usually positive incentives may be the Amazon's only hope for survival, and hopefully will lead to future progress.

This recent study was published in the June 6 issue of the journal Science.

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