The destruction of the Brazilian rainforest has slowed significantly. With around 5000 square kilometers annually, the loss is now about 80% lower than in 2004. Led by the Center for Development Research (ZEF) at the University of Bonn, an international team of researchers has evaluated the effectiveness of forest law enforcement in the Brazilian Amazon. In some federal states of the Brazilian Amazon region enforcement has been more effective than in others. The results are presented in the journal "PLOS ONE".
Deforestation of the Amazon rainforest featured in international press headlines for a long time. However, Brazil has made substantial efforts to protect rainforests ecosystem services lately. "Over the last decade, there has been a significant decline in deforestation," says Dr. Jan Börner, the Robert Bosch junior professor at the Center for Development Research (ZEF) of the University of Bonn.
According to national statistics, in 2004, 27,772 square kilometers of forest fell victim, primarily to agricultural use; by 2012, deforestation had decreased to 4,656 square kilometers.
Deterrence through high penalties and frequent controls
Rainforest destruction is driven in particular by large cattle ranchers and farmers, but also small-scale agriculture. New roads promote timber extraction and clearing. With an international team of researchers from the University of Freiburg, the Humboldt University in Berlin and the Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA) in Brazil, Börner studied around 15,000 forest law violations across the Brazilian part of the Amazon basin to measure how effective the implementation of the rainforest protection was.
"Forest law enforcement is, in principle, similar to speed limit control in traffic: the higher the penalties and the more frequent the controls, the greater the deterrence potential", explains Börner.
For the past few years, law enforcement agents were equipped with GPS devices to record the spatial locations of forest law violations. The team of scientists used this data to measure how effective this field-based enforcement was in the various regions: How did deforestation patterns change after field inspections and where?
Answering this question requires statistical methods to ensure that inspected locations are compared to appropriate counterfactual scenarios. "Ultimately, there are many rival explanations for why deforestation is slowing down; instead of forest law it could have been economic reasons that induced farmers to convert less forest to agriculture", explains the junior professor.
The study suggests that effective rainforest protection hinges on the physical presence of regulators and the actual delivery of disincentives on the ground. This often involves effective collaboration between enforcement authorities at federal and state levels. Based on those criteria, forest law enforcement was particularly effective in the Brazilian states of Mato Grosso and Pará. "Public prosecutors in these states have dramatically increased the pressure: They maintain black lists of agricultural enterprises that violate the protective provisions", reports the ZEF scientist. "For example, wholesale dealers may then no longer buy products from these sources."
Satellite system reveals illegal deforestation
It is also important that forest law violations are sanctioned in a timely manner. That is why Brazil has developed an effective satellite monitoring system, which can provide evidence of illegal deforestation almost in real-time. Through the improved monitoring infrastructure, forest law violations in the Amazon can be investigated and punished within days. Börner: "The various Brazilian authorities act in concert with one another. That is of critical importance for the conservation of the tropical rainforest."
Rainforests in Africa and Asia, among other places, are also disappearing. "Brazil shows how you can contribute to the conservation of internationally important rainforests with investments in satellite systems and consistent prosecution of illegal deforestation", summarizes the University of Bonn researcher. Another promising strategy is to reward farmers for avoided deforestation. Yet, making sure that well-intended rewards translate into actual conservation incentives on the ground is a major challenge.
Publication: Post-crackdown effectiveness of field-based forest law enforcement in the Brazilian Amazon, "PLOS ONE" journal
Juniorprof. Dr. Jan Börner
Zentrum für Entwicklungsforschung (ZEF)
Johannes Seiler | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Climate change, population growth may lead to open ocean aquaculture
05.10.2017 | Oregon State University
New machine evaluates soybean at harvest for quality
04.10.2017 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
19.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy