People, Environment

Brazil Cuts Environment Budget by 43 Percent

After several years of decline, deforestation in the Amazon appears to be increasing again.After several years of decline, deforestation in the Amazon appears to be increasing again.

Last week the Brazilian government reduced the budget for the Ministry of the Environment by 43%. The ministry now has a budget of 446 million Brazilian reals ($141 million).

The federal science budget has also been cut by 44%, making it the lowest budget in at least 12 years, Nature reported. Scientists and environmental groups fear that these budget cuts could hinder efforts to stem deforestation that has been on the rise in the country.

Alfredo Sirkis, the executive secretary of the Brazilian Forum on Climate Change, told Observatorio do Clima that the cut was “very serious” and will “profoundly [impact] deforestation—and, consequently, Brazil’s climate targets”.

Brazil accounts for nearly two-thirds of the Amazon rainforest, the world’s largest tropical forest. After several years of decline, deforestation—driven by beef, soy and timber industries—appears to be increasing again.  Between August 2015 and July 2016, for example, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon increased by 29% over the previous year, making it the highest deforestation level recorded in the region since 2008. Forest area about 135 times the size of New York’s Manhattan neighborhood was cut down in just one year, Mongabay reported.

Brazil recently announced its plans of restoring 12 million hectares of deforested and degraded forest land by 2030 at the 13th Conference of the Parties on Biological Diversity in December 2016. But the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources, Brazil’s Environmental Protection Agency, which works to prevent deforestation of the Amazon, is already severely cash-strapped. And the budget cut is likely to exacerbate the problem.

“In case of deforestation, the combination of budget cuts and other management decisions, especially with reducing protected areas, is likely to increase deforestation,” Paulo Barreto, a senior researcher with environmental monitoring group Imazon, told Climate Wire.

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