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May 3, 2019

Deforestation Declined in Brazil in 2018, Much More Work Needed

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

Brazil made strides in 2018 in controlling illegal deforestation in the Amazon Region, but there is still a long way to go. According to data released by the Global Forest Watch and the World Resources Institute (WRI), in 2018, Brazil lost 13,470 square kilometers of tropical forest (3,328,500 acres), which was a 70% decrease from 2017. The majority of deforestation in 2018 was the result of fires used in land clearing.

Brazil contains approximately 60% of the Amazon Rainforest, which is the largest tropical forest in the world and responsible for absorbing huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere considered vital for combating global warming. The Democratic Republic of Congo recorded the second most deforestation in 2018 with the loss of 4,812 square kilometers (1,188,500 acres).

The Brazilian government has been fighting against illegal deforestation for decades with mixed results. Reuters reported that the Brazilian Federal Police recently registered a success in their fight against deforestation with the announcement last week of the arrest of 29 individuals accused of illegal extraction and export of lumber from Brazil.

The illegal scheme involved corruption between state environmental organizations, environmental engineers, and lumber companies. The two-year investigation revealed illicit operations in the states of Acre, Amazonas, Minas Gerais, Mato Grosso, Parana, Roraima, Rondonia, and Sao Paulo. The individuals are accused of illegally exporting 400 containers of illegal lumber from two ports in the city of Manaus to Asia, Europe, and the United States. These two ports are responsible for nearly all the lumber exports from the Brazilian Amazon Region.

The Federal Police allege the individuals were part of a criminal organization that falsified identities and falsified documents in conjunction with illegal extraction and export of lumber. They are also accused of corruption and money laundering. The Federal Police have frozen R$ 50 million in the accounts of the accused companies.

The Federal Police stated that they now have new technology utilizing satellite imaginary that allows for nearly daily monitoring of deforestation.