On the occasion of the release of the documentary entitled “Amazonie: la forêt menacée” by Michel Dumont, Eric Bergeron and Fred Grimm (Arte documentary), Philippe Sablayrolles, representing GRET in Brazil, discusses the issue of conservation of amazon forest on which Gret leads several projects
In Touch: What is the status of the clearing of the forest in the State of Para, where the Arte documentary was shot?
Philippe Sablayrolles. The forests of Brazilian Amazon are subjected to very different pressures according to their proximity to areas of integration. In the Pará State there are areas of intensive clearing such as São Felix do Xingu where the Arte shooting was done and less affected areas. With a surface of 1.25 million sq km, it represents 25 % of Amazonia and includes some of the main ways of communication to and from the rest of the country. The aggregated clearance now extends to 20 % of the State land mass. More than half of its territory belongs to protected areas (57 % of land are conservation units, indigenous community lands and of the Quilombo group and 2 % belonging to the military areas). The land reform settlements totalling 8 % of the territory, the remainder (37 million ha, or 30 % of the State) consists of private land or unauthorized under federal or Central State jurisdiction.
In Touch: What are the latest developments of the phenomenon in recent years and how do we measure them?
PS. Clearing patterns, strongly related to stockbreeding and motorized farming, have sharply declined since 2003-2004: the annual clearing rate for Brazilian Amazon grew from 15 to 5000 sq km in eight years. Part of this success is due to the implementation of forest clearing control policies, in line with the same international endeavour to fight climate change. In practice, these policies involve the systematic use of satellite remote sensing system and an increased accountability of the municipal level, with penalties in case of poor performance (difficulties in obtaining loans and embargoes on the sale of meat). The legislative system has evolved as a result of the effective enforcement of the new Forest Code which requires the preservation of integral conservation areas and a significant land reserve within the farm lands. Similarly, satellite sensing and geo-referencing of farm operations and plots remain the most effective technical means.
In Touch: What are the major issues at stake today?
PS. These recent achievements are still subjected to serious threats:
- Due to the stalemate in international climate negotiations increasingly less heed is paid a real policy to control forest clearing in Brazil
- Forest clearing control is closely evocative of repression, despite efforts to change practices with the new Forest Code
- The less-forest intensive agriculture that the new Forest Code seeks to promote did not receive enough support from the other sectorial public policies (credits, training, research, technical assistance
- Sustainable economic development of the forest always stumbles on unsuited technical models and a sloppy management of the forestry sector. For instance, a recent study of the Amazonia forest reveals that more than of 60 % of timber logging in the forest between 2008 and 2009 were unauthorized
For more information on the documentary ” Amazonie: la forêt menacée” http://www.arte.tv/fr/amazonie-la-foret-menacee/7460000,CmC=7460004.html
For more information on the activities of GRET in Brazil: http://www.GRET.org/les-pays/representations/bresil/