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September 3, 2013

Brazil Committed to Reach Goal of Reduced Deforestation

In a climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009, the Brazilian government set a goal of reducing annual deforestation to less than 4,000 square kilometers per year (988,000 acres) by the year 2020 as a way to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The goal represented a reduction of 84% in the amount of deforestation, which in Brazil, is the principal source of greenhouse gases. Part of this commitment was to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by 36% to 39% by the year 2020.

With seven years to go, government officials have announced that they are well on their way to meeting that goal ahead of schedule. During 2012, the amount of deforestation in Brazil was estimated at 4,500 square kilometers.

Most of the reduction in deforestation was accomplished in the Amazon Region of northern Brazil and the National Secretary for Climate Change, Carlos Klink, now says the focus of their efforts is to reduce the amount of deforestation in the cerrado regions of central Brazil. The Brazilian cerrado is a savanna-like environment composed of low twisted trees interspersed with grass and is ideal for conversion to row-crop agriculture. Over the last several decades, millions of hectares of cerrado have been converted to soybean and corn production catapulting Brazil to one of the largest grain producing countries in the world.

If Brazil is to continue producing more grain to feed the world'Ts growing appetite, it must do so by relying less on the clearing of new land and more on increasing the productivity of land already cleared. That is exactly the focus of the Brazilian agriculture research service Embrapa which has been promoting improved cropping practices as a way to increase grain production while at the same time reducing the need for new land clearing.