Archive for Amazon
Quoted from independent.co.uk 16th January 2013
Trees in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest are being fitted with mobile phones in an attempt to tackle illegal logging and deforestation. Devices smaller than a pack of cards are being attache d to the trees in protected areas to alert officials once they are cut down and the logs are transported. Location data is sent from sensors once the logs are within 20 miles of a mobile phone network to allow Brazil’s environment agency to stop the sale of illegal timber. The technology, called Invisible Tracck, which is being piloted by Dutch digital security company Gemalto, has a battery life of up to a year and has been designed to withstand the Amazonian climate. It will also allow officials to track trees in real time rather than relying on slower traditional means of monitoring through satellite images. Ramzi Abdine, general manager of Cinterion M2M, the wireless technology arm at Gemalto Latin America, said the new device could help overcome the difficulty of tracking trees over a large area. “The rainforest in Brazil is approximately the size of the United States so it’s impossible to monitor each and every acre,” he said. Marcelo Hayashi, general manager of Cargo Tracck, added: “Gemalto’s Cinterion M2M was vital in enabling us to develop a tracking and tracing solution rugged enough to withstand the heat and moisture of the Amazon. “It is unique because it’s small for inconspicuous deployment in the field and power-efficient enough to operate over long stretches of time without recharging batteries, which is crucial when tracking trees in remote areas.”
e360.yale.edu 15th August 2012
Quoted from source:
‘A Brazilian judge has ordered a suspension of the controversial Belo Monte dam project, saying that local indigenous people who will be affected by the massive hydroelectric project were not sufficiently consulted during the environmental assessment process. In a ruling issued Tuesday, Judge Souza Prudente of the Federal Tribunal of Brazil’s Amazon region found that no consultations were held with local communities before Congress approved what would be the world’s third-largest dam project. The $16 billion project, which is expected to produce 11,000 megawatts of energy, would flood 260 square miles of rainforest in Brazil’s Para state and displace more than 20,000 people who depend on free-flowing rivers for their livelihoods. “The Brazilian Congress must take into account the decisions taken by the indigenous communities,” Prudente wrote. “Legislators can only give the go-ahead if the indigenous communities agree with the project.” The developer of the project, Norte Energia, will be fined $250,000 per day if construction on the project continues. The company says it will appeal the decision to a higher court.’
www.nytimes.com 1st July 2011
In an attempt to reduce their reliance on Amazonian hardwoods, officials in charge of maintaining the Coney Island boardwalk have begun to replace sections of the walk with concrete instead of wooden boards. Pressure from conservation organisations such as Rainforest Relief has apparently succeeded with the boardwalk, constructed in 1923, now having two sections of concrete walkway. Amazonian hardwoods, such as ipe, are used in many of Brooklyn’s piers, benches, and walkways and can withstand the weight of a garbage truck. In recent times, supplies of hardwoods have been depleted to dangerously low levels. Concrete seems to be the cheapest and most durable alternative costing at $95 a square foot compared to $127 for hardwood. Native American hardwoods are not suitable as sturdy as their Amazonian counterparts. The next instalment of concrete will be, if plans drawn up by advisory body Community Block 13 are followed through, 5 blocks on the walk’s eastern edge costing $7.5 million. An other plan to replace just a central strip of the boardwalk with concrete, on which the garbage trucks could drive, and then use recycled plastic boards for the rest (costing $110 per square foot) was turned down by Community Board 13 at a vote of 21 to 7.
e360.yale.edu 19th May 2011
Quoted from source:
‘Satellite photographs reveal that deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has intensified significantly during the last two months, a trend environmental advocates say is linked to an ongoing national debate over easing forest protection laws. According to Brazil’s National Space Research Agency, about 593 square kilometers of forest was cleared during March and April, compared to just 103 square kilometers in March and April 2010. Eighty-one percent of the recent clearing occurred in Mato Grosso, the nation’s southernmost state and a center of soybean production. The steep rise in forest loss stands in stark contrast to recent trends in Brazil, where annual deforestation had fallen almost 80 percent since 2004. Some say the recent deforestation is a direct consequence of the debate over changes to Brazil’s Forest Code, which requires property owners in the Amazon region to maintain 80 percent of their holdings as forest. Greenpeace’s Marcio Astrini told Reuters that deforestation is surging in Mato Grosso because landowners, anticipating that a weakening of the code would grant amnesty for deforestation, are rapidly clearing forest for agriculture. “The only relevant factor is the Forest Code,” he said. “It is a gigantic rise.”
e360.yale.edu 2nd May 2011
Quoted from source:
‘The world’s largest producer of beef, JBS-Fribol, has agreed to stop buying cattle from ranches associated with illegal deforestation in the Amazon. After being accused by Brazilian officials of purchasing large quantities of cattle from illegally deforested land and facing $1.3 billion in fines, the company has signed agreements with prosecutors in eight states in the Amazon stating that it would not purchase beef from areas classified as conservation units or indigenous territories, or listed as off-limits by state environmental authorities. JBS-Fribol also said it would stop purchasing cattle from ranches accused of labor abuses, including slave labor. In exchange for promises to begin changing its operations by September 2012, the company will avoid the $1.3 billion in fines, state prosecutors said. Although hailed as an important step in efforts to slow deforestation in the Amazon, the agreement faces significant challenges, including corruption at the local level. Cattle production is the largest driver of deforestation in the Amazon, and a crackdown on the beef industry is one reason deforestation in the region has slowed in recent years.’
www.nytimes.com 5th April 2011, video by Amazon Watch and narrated by Sigourney Weaver.
The Brazilian government has emphatically refused to stop the construction of a new dam in the Amazon amid fears that it will displace tens of thousands of indigenous people and cause environmental harm. The Belo Monte hydroelectric dam, if completed, will be the third largest in the world but it has faced strong opposition from environmental and human rights organisations. The dam, with a predicted cost of $17 billion, would divert a 62 mile stretch of the Xingu River in Pará state. Critics claim this will result in the flooding of 120,000 acres of rainforest and displace between 20,000 and 40,000 local groups. The government say these figures will be a lot lower. The opposition movement has attracted high profile supporters including James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bill Clinton. The final decision to be made about the dam is now resting with Ibama, Brazil’s environmental protection agency. So far two presidents of Ibama have resigned from their posts, reportedly due to friction with the country’s leadership. Brazil currently receives about 80% of its energy from hydroelectric power.
www.latimes.com 23rd February 2011
Quoted from source:
‘Vines may be proliferating at the expense of trees in tropical forests across the Americas, scientists have found. This shift in abundance could affect the water in the ecosystem and how carbon is stored in the plants, potentially drying out forests and resulting in more carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere. The report, published online last week in the journal Ecology Letters, surveyed eight studies on the state of woody vines in tropical forests from the Savannah River system and the Congaree National Park in South Carolina to an area in the central Amazon about 50 miles north of Manaus, Brazil. They found that in all forests, vines were increasing in abundance, biomass or both. “Global change is happening everywhere — and this is one of the first signs for tropical forests,” said Stefan Schnitzer, an ecologist with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, who conducted the review with Frans Bongers of Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Woody vines evolved to escape the dimly lit confines under the trees in tropical forests by climbing up tree trunks and branches, then spreading their networks of leaves over the dense treetops that make up the forest canopy. They block sunlight from the tree leaves they cover, and compete with the trees for water and nutrients.’
www.telegraph.co.uk 4th February 2011
The Amazonian rainforest has been struck by two severe floods in the past six years causing a large number of trees to die. The first hit in 2005 and was described as a 1 in a 100 year event. However, new research of 5.3 million square kilometres of forest by a team led by Dr Simon Lewis from the University of Leeds has discovered that another drought last year may have been even worse. The first drought alone was responsible for releasing 5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere due to rotting vegetation and the forest’s reduced capacity to absorb greenhouse gases (the Amazon usually absorbs about 1.5 billion tonnes annually). The second brought the Rio Negro tributary of the Amazon to its lowest recorded level. If these droughts continue the researchers, who published their findings in the journal Science, believe that the Amazon forest could go from being carbon absorber to a carbon emitter.
www.nationalgeographic.com 6th December 2010
‘A lone house stands out against a dry riverbed in Cadajas on October 25. A prolonged drought may harm Brazil’s crops. For instance, farmers in the Amazon’s fertile Matto Grosso state are highly dependent on Amazon rain to grow their crops, which are extremely profitable because normally so little irrigation is needed.’
‘Hard-hit by a months-long drought, a waterway within the Amazon Basin trickles to a halt in Manaus, Brazil on November 19. The Negro River, a major tributary of the Amazon River, dropped to a depth of about 46 feet (14 meters)—the lowest point since record-keeping began in 1902.’
‘A fisher reportedly discovered prehistoric etchings when water receded from the banks of the Negro River, according to the Hindu newspaper. Archaeologists suggest the 7,000-year-old engravings—which feature images of faces and snakes—may be more evidence that the Amazon was once home to large civilizations.’
‘A boat rests amid debris in Manaus on September 15. The drought has also sparked a surge in wildfires, particularly in the state of Mato Grosso—which means “thick forest,” according to Reuters. There have been 36,700 forest fires in Mato Grasso so far this year, compared with 8,135 in 2009, Reuters reported. The blazes have destroyed cattle pastures, killed livestock, and burned down some of the region’s remaining original forest.’
www.bbc.co.uk 1st December 2010
According to the Brazilian government, the rate of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest has dropped to its lowest rate in 22 years. Satellite imaging has shown that between the dates of August 2009 and July 2010, 6,450 square kilometres (2,490 sq miles) of forest were cleared, down 12% from the year before. The environment minister Izabella Teixeira described the news as ‘fantastic’ before insisting that the Brazilian government is well on its way to reducing deforestation to 5,000 sq km by 2017. The drop in fell rates have been attributed to better monitoring and police enforcement. Political action has been swift following an all time high in cleared land of 27,772 sq km in 2004. The year after, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva promised to reduce forest clearing by 80% by 2020. With 20% of global CO2 emissions attributed to deforestation, the Brazilian government seem to be making an effort to reduce their carbon footprint. Although this year’s reduction is considerable compared to 2004, it is still equivalent to an area of land half the size of Jamaica.
www.guardian.co.uk 12th October 2010
The Thames river has been awarded a top global conservation prize for its remarkable recovery over the past half century. In the 1950s, the watercourse, which flows through the UK capital city London, was a dead-zone but through numerous restoration and conservation projects the river now teams with over 125 species of fish including salmon, trout, sole, and bass. The British river fended off challenges from a hundred other applicants to win the Australian based International Thiess River Prize and the A$350,000 (£218,000) award that went with it. Competitors included the Amazon in South America, the Piddle in Dorset (Southwest UK), and the Yellow River in China. 80% of the Thames was judged to be of ‘very good’ or ‘good’ water quality due to extensive recent habitat enhancement projects (400 over the past 5 years covering 40 miles). The UK’s Environment Agency, which is in charge of the award money, plans to spend it on further conservation project son the river. Previous winners include the Danube, which has recently been contaminated with toxic chemical sludge from Hungary, and the Mersey river in Liverpool.
e360.yale.edu 29th September 2010
Quoted from source:
‘Canada’s boreal forest stretches from British Columbia to Newfoundland, covering 2.2 million square miles, an area nearly 60 percent the size of the United States. Much of that forest is intact, making it — along with Russia’s northern forest and portions of the Amazon — one of three great tracts of forest on the globe. In recent years, however, industrial activity, including Alberta’s massive tar sands mines, has been nibbling away at the Canadian boreal forest. In an effort to preserve it, nine environmental groups and 21 forest products companies have signed the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, which calls for a suspension of logging on 70 million acres of boreal forest and the introduction of improved logging practices on an additional 106 million acres. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Steven Kallick, director of the Pew Environmental Group’s International Boreal Conservation Campaign, which brokered the accord, explains that it is part of a much larger effort to fully protect 50 percent of Canada’s boreal forest from industrial development.’
Read the full interview here.