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A new era in the fight against deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon: opportunities to improve policy effectiveness

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T. Gardner
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The deforestation slowdown in the Amazon is one of the most important environmental success stories of recent decades, with an 83% decrease in the annual rate of deforestation from 2004 to 2012. This accomplishment has enabled Brazil to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by more than a third, while also preserving biodiversity and maintaining other vital ecosystem services. Brazil achieved this dramatic reduction, in part, through ambitious government efforts to create new conservation areas and strengthen deforestation monitoring and enforcement.

Yet annual deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon stabilised after 2009 and started to rise once more in 2013. While deforestation levels are still far lower than they were at their peak in 2004, when an area almost the size of Belgium was cleared in a single year, it is clear that Brazil’s deforestation policies are reaching the limits of their effectiveness. This policy brief examines some of the reasons for this shift and suggests new strategies for decision-makers’ consideration.

Findings highlight that the fight against de-forestation in the Amazon is entering a new phase. Without decisive action, Brazil could see deforestation rates continue to remain stable or rise again, as recent data suggest may already be happening.