Saving the Brazilian Amazon Research Paper

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Research Paper on Saving the Brazilian Amazon Assignment

Over the last 20 years, the overall issue of the destruction of the Amazon rainforest has been increasingly brought to the forefront. This is because there was a consistent push by the Brazilian government to develop the region since the 1960's. Where, they began to encourage people to locate to the region, as they were seeking to develop the Amazon for its agricultural potential and natural resources. As a result, there has been a constant push to destroy large areas of the forest consistently that time. A good example of this can be seen with 60 million hectares of the forest destroyed and converted for agricultural use over the last 30 years. (Ramos) This is the equivalent of the land mass of France being destroyed for commercial interests. Over the course of time, such a policy has resulted in large numbers of Brazilians relocating to the Amazon region. Then, when you combine this with the increased amounts of highways constructed into the region, has meant that the area is now being mined by commercial loggers. What makes the development of the rainforest so troubling is the fact, that it is a major source of converting carbon dioxide into oxygen. This helps to protect the planet from direct rays of the sun; by ensuring that the ozone layer is strong enough prevent these rays from hitting the surface of Earth. This allows the temperature of the planet to remain moderate, as the weather patterns are more predictable. However, the destruction of the rainforest has meant that overall climate of the planet is being affected. An example as to how extreme the problem has become can be seen by looking no further than World Watch's State of the World Report which said,"Forest are shrinking, water tables are falling, soils are eroding, wetlands are disappearing, fisheries are collapsing, range lands are deteriorating, rivers are running dry, temperatures are rising, coral reefs are dying and plant and animal species are disappearing." (Hallowell and Levy 210 -- 211) This is significant because it underscore how vital the Amazon is for ensuring the long-term sustainability of the planet. In order to prevent the jungle from being destroyed requires: that the government focus on those policies that will protect them and encourage responsible economic development. This means, that the government must take a long hard look at those policies that did not work in the past. Then, focus on creating policies that can be used in the short- and long-term that will allow for a balance, between responsible economic development and the environment. This will provide the greatest insights to policymakers and the general public, as to how to sustainable development can be achieved in the Amazon.

Issues Affecting the Sustainable Development of the Brazilian Amazon

In order to determine how to effectively create sustainable development of the Amazon; requires that you examine the current and past policy of the Brazilian government towards the region. Like what was stated previously, the Brazilian government has been developing the rainforest since the 1960's. This is in response to addressing some of the different economic woes that the country was grappling with, mainly large amounts of poverty and a lack of economic development. In order to increase economic prosperity, it was determined that the rainforest should be developed for commercial interests. This would lead to the construction of a number of different roads into the region, since that time. As the government, would encourage people to migrate to the Amazon from the cities. They also began to support a number of new industries that were emerging in the rainforest these would include: logging, mining, the development of agriculture and cattle ranching. (Ramos)

However, over the years: a lack of planning, law enforcement, various land issues and high food prices would push for even greater destruction of the rainforest. As many people who were coming to the area, had no limitations on what pieces of the forest could be utilized for the different objectives. This would lead to an anything goes type of atmosphere, that would grip these industries and new found settlers to the region. As a result, the overall destruction of the Amazon would continue to increase. A good example of this can be seen in the Brazilian state of Mato Grasso. Where, 40% of all new deforestation took place between 2001 and 2004. (Ramos) As there was rapid increase in the overall amounts of soybeans planted in the areas of the rainforest that were destroyed. This is significant, because it underscores the fact that there are large economic incentives for destroying various regions of the forest. Then, when you combine this with the fact that large amounts of roads and railroads were developed the area, have meant that transportation costs have declined dramatically. These two factors have helped fuel the expansion into even more parts of the forest, where the profit motives for engaging in such actions are enticing. This is the biggest reason why the Amazon is being destroyed.

Yet, when you look a little further one reason why such an attitude took shape is: because the Brazilian government had a history of not regulating the various activities in the jungle. This is because throughout the 1960's and 1970's, destruction of the forest was considered to be a part of developing the region. Where, the Amazon was mainly a forest that stood in the way of the government achieving its objectives. This would lead to a hands off type of atmosphere among government officials. As they would fund the development of new industries into the jungle such as cattle; however, they would not do anything to regulate the growth of the region. A good example of this can be seen by looking no further than comments made by Paulo Barreto (a senior researcher at the Amazon Institute of People and the Environment where he said, "Brazil's cattle industry, the world's largest meat producer, is responsible for 75% of the Brazilian Amazon's deforestation and accounts for 40% of Brazil's greenhouse gas emissions." ("Land Use and Rural Development in the Brazilian Amazon") What this shows is how the government had an incentive for many decades to not regulate the development of the Amazon. Where, they were actively supporting and in some cases subsidizing these industries (such as cattle). This would lead to no planning for the development of the forest, as the short-term profit motives were the number one objective. Such attitudes would be reflected with the way that the forest was used in various industries, as the lack of oversight would lead underutilization of various resources. This can be seen in the cattle industry of the Amazon, where they are raising one heard of cattle for every one hectare. This is below what the more developed countries are producing on similar parcels of land. In order for Brazil to be able to create a sustainable development plan, means that the government must engage in polices that will most effectively utilize current farm land. Then, the government must designate certain areas of the forest for development, while protecting others. ("Land Use and Rural Development in the Brazilian Amazon")

Current Efforts to Protect the Forrest

Despite the large amounts of destruction, the government has begun to engage in a number of different programs that will protect the forest and prevent it from being exploited. What is happening is the era of when anything goes in the Amazon, has slowly started to disappear. This is because of the overall devastating effects that are taking place at the hands of development, where nearly one third of the forest has been destroyed because of logging. Then, when you combine this with the push for increased amounts of agribusiness in the region, means that the total amount of infrastructure is increasing. Once roads and other pieces are in place, this could cause the total amount of deforestation to increase in these areas by over 70%. (Ramos) This has caused the Brazilian government to conduct a number of different studies, as to if the current amounts of deforestation are sufficient now and into the future. The results showed that the country has more than enough agricultural land to meet the needs of agribusiness. With the Ministry of Agriculture saying, "The total area of already deforested and arable land in Brazil is more than enough to increase soybean plantations without need for further deforestation. For instance, the national production of ethanol could be doubled by using only 3.3% of Brazil's 90 million hectares of arable land. However, care must be taken to prevent new deforestation caused by displacement of other economic activities such as cattle ranching, which has already occurred. When bio fuels increase demands for crops, prices will rise, farms will expand and displaced ranchers will clear new lands, usually in forested areas where land prices are still low." (Laurence 438 -- 439) As a result, the Brazilian government has engaged in a number of different programs to protect the Amazon… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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