Brazil’s announcement of a record low in Amazon deforestation in the last year is tangible evidence of why negotiators at the U.N. climate conference in Cancún, Mexico can and should move forward on a global plan for preserving forests.
While the U.N. is mired in debate over what negotiating text they should use and whether policies for REDD+ (Reducing in Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) can really work, Brazil has already laid the groundwork for REDD+.
Brazil has slowed deforestation to a record low of about 6,000 square kilometers in 2010 – what amounts to a 14% drop from last year and a whopping 67 percent from the average rate between 1996 and 2005 – and has shown how REDD+ can work in practice.
Critical elements of Brazil’s effort include:
- improvements in enforcing laws
- using top-of-the-line satellite measurement systems
- large-scale creation of new parks and reserves, including extensive indigenous territories, in active agriculture frontiers
Brazil has also created a national baseline from which to start measurements (the average deforestation from 1996–2005), and is developing equitable ways of distributing benefits.
Cancún talks should look to Brazil's success with avoiding deforestation
In Cancún, U.N. negotiators need to stop quibbling over text and take a closer look at how REDD+ can work in real life. Brazil is leading the world in preserving its valuable forests, protecting its indigenous people and curbing carbon emissions.
The evidence is in: there is now peer-reviewed science that shows that Brazil's creation of new protected areas the size of France – which include indigenous lands – contributed very substantially to its historic reductions in national deforestation. Recognizing indigenous rights and protecting their territories is clearly central to stopping large-scale deforestation, and this is working in Brazil.
Brazil has also done an outstanding job ramping up law enforcement, and creating new protected areas, creating a real impact on reducing deforestation.
But to make these reductions sustainable over time, Brazil needs to create positive incentives for forest conservation — for indigenous and traditional communities and for small and large farmers.
That’s where REDD+, and the carbon markets it would create to help protect forests, can help Brazil and other forested nation on the globe.