The world’s largest rainforest is once again in grave danger.

(REUTERS/Bruno Kelly)

Since 1978, the Amazon has lost some 289,000 square miles to cattle ranchers, soy producers, loggers, and industrial activity. Such rapid deforestation sparked a global “Save the Rainforest” movement in the late ’80s and ’90s that led to T-shirts, posters, concerts, and celebrity-led foundations.

Such attention proved successful. In 1989, Brazil, which is home to roughly two-thirds of the rainforest, launched the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Natural Resources (known as “Ibama”) — a federal agency equipped with a fierce legion of armed environmental police. Deforestation immediately began to slow.

Then, in 2004, the government increased forest patrol again, cracked down on illegal harvesting activity, and offered incentives to farmers who otherwise survived off milling Amazonian lands.

Together with market forces, which made Amazon staples like beef and soy less profitable, these initiatives reduced deforestation by nearly two-thirds between 2005 and 2012.

The Acari river in the town of Apui, in the southern region of the state of Amazonas, Brazil. | (REUTERS/Bruno Kelly)

But despite the conservation efforts of the 1990s and aughts, deforestation has spiked once again. In 2016, 3,085 square miles of forest were …read more


Source:: The Week – Science

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