Brazil has made important progress in slowing deforestation in the Amazon region. As of 2013, deforestation had declined 70% below its ten-year average ending in 2005, making Brazil the global leader in climate change mitigation. It was achieved while soy and beef production continued to grow, and with a large increase in land formally designated as indigenous peoples’ territories. These important strides towards a new “low-emission” model of rural development are at risk, however. Climbing soy prices, the end to some of the voluntary agreements that helped slow deforestation (such as the Soy Moratorium), and a shortage of cattle pasture suitable for conversion to soy, could come together to drive deforestation rates back up. In 2013, for example, deforestation was 28% higher than in 2012.
Earth Innovation Institute, together with partner organizations, has been leading a multi-sector dialogue in Brazil to plug an important gap in the Amazon deforestation story, and prevent a reversal of the decline in deforestation rates. There are at least eight different processes underway in the Brazilian Amazon region that are designed to slow deforestation. However, these processes use different metrics of success, they operate with different spatial scales and over different time periods, and they are severely deficient in positive incentives for farmers who are doing their part to slow deforestation. In other words, deforestation strategies are being discussed in many different “languages”, creating an important obstacle to the convergence that will be needed to continue the recent trend towards lower deforestation.
The “Multi-Sector Deforestation Agreement for the Amazon” is designed to help achieve this convergence. It establishes a set of incremental milestones for reducing deforestation through 2020, when the decline in deforestation will achieve 90% below the ten-year average and when all clearing of primary forest would be 90% below the historical average and would be compensated by new natural forest.