Navigation Links
Scientists warn Brazil's environmental leadership at risk
Date:6/28/2012

Scientists convening at the largest-ever meeting of tropical biologists congratulated Brazil for its global leadership on environment and science, but warned that recent developments could jeopardize that position, undermining progress on reducing deforestation, protecting indigenous lands, and safeguarding ecosystems outside the Amazon rainforest.

Forgoing the Rio+20 Earth Summit, some 1200 tropical biologists and conservationists met in Bonito, Brazil at the 49th annual meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC) to present and discuss topics ranging from ecology to sustainable use of tropical biology. More than half the participants were Brazilian.

At the conclusion of the meetings, ATBC issued a declaration urging the Brazil government maintain its leadership position on environmental conservation and sustainable development, by continuing to utilize scientific input and invest in science and education.

"Brazil's success in advancing science and conservation, while achieving impressive economic growth and significant improvements in human welfare are being watched by the world as a potential model for environmentally sustainable development," said John Kress, a botanist at the Smithsonian Institution who serves as ATBC Executive Director. "But recent developments raise concerns."

"Brazil was on a good track on environmental issues over past 10-20 years," said Carlos Fonseca, a botanist at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte. "We saw real changes in how society perceives and values the environment. Recently this changed drastically mostly due to Congress, which is changing the laws to go against popular opinion and the advice of scientists. This is threatening a lot of the achievements we've had in the past two decades."

The declaration cited several issues including the recent push to weaken the country's Forest Code, which stipulates how much forest a landowner must preserve on their property, and proposed infrastructure projects, which could worsen deforestation and degrade important ecosystem functions.

"Changes to the Forest Code are short-sighted and largely ignored input from biologists and conservation scientists," said Fonseca. "The new Forest Code could reverse Brazil's progress in reducing deforestation."

The scientists also noted possible changes in how indigenous lands and protected areas are designated. The proposal would give more power to Brazilian Congress, which passed the revised forest code, and industrial development agencies in determining what lands are set aside as indigenous territories and parks.

"We are concerned about a push in Congress to start reviewing the tenure of the indigenous lands, which is something that is unique to Brazil," said Jos Manuel Fragoso, an ecologist at Stanford University. "Indigenous peoples depend on these lands for their livelihoods and are also very important partners for biodiversity conservation."

"We feel that Brazil has been in a leadership position with regard to the environment so we're disappointed to see the government failing to address concerns raised by the scientific community on some of these large-scale industrial development projects like the Belo Monte dam and the proposed project on the Tapajs River," said Fragoso.

"Brazil is planning 30 new dams in the legal Amazon region by 2020," said Philip Fearnside of the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amaznia in Manaus, Brazil. "These dams will block key fish migration routes, flood tens of thousands of hectares of rainforest, inundate indigenous communities, and unleash vast amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Amazon dams are not a source of clean energy."

The declaration urged the government rigorously and transparently consider and utilize scientific information in the planning all dam projects. It noted the need to investigate less damaging forms of technology to meet growing energy needs.

ATBC further highlighted Brazil's lesser-known, but highly important ecosystems, which in some cases haven't experienced the progress seen in the Amazon. The deforestation rate in the Brazilian Amazon has fallen by nearly 80 percent since 2004.

"Brazil must be commended for the drop in Amazon deforestation," said Kirsten Silvius of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. "But other important ecosystems -- the Atlantic forest, cerrado, caatinga, pantanal, and pampas grasslands -- have not received the same level of attention. Indeed, the cerrado is being converted at a more than twice the rate of the Amazon and is at extreme risk from synergistic interactions between fragmentation, climate change and fire."

"The world is still losing forests at a rapid pace, which as a tropical biologist, is a huge concern to me," said Susan Laurance. "Brazil can offer a positive model for other tropical countries but also for its other ecosystems."

The declaration notes Brazil has shown both vision and leadership in investing in higher education and research, and now boasts world-class institutes and scientists in many areas of scientific endeavor. Its development of satellite technology for monitoring the Amazon has been central to setting and meeting of targets for reducing deforestation.

"We urge that the same vision is extended to other ecosystems to ensure long-term environmentally sustainable stewardship," stated the declaration. "New mechanisms are needed to ensure that vital scientific information is incorporated into decision-making processes from the start."

"Brazil has the once in a lifetime opportunity to lead the world on the environment. It has a wealth of scientific capacity and resources available to develop evidence-based policy," said Toby Gardner. "It shouldn't pass up this opportunity."


'/>"/>

Contact: Jose Fragoso
fragoso@stanford.edu
415-810-1887
Stanford University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. UCSB scientists compile first study of potential for tsunamis in northwestern California
2. Disappearing grasslands: ASU scientists to study dramatic environmental change
3. SFU scientists engage Science in fisheries debate
4. Hulk smash? Maybe not anymore: scientists block excess aggression in mice
5. UCLA scientists discover how key enzyme involved in aging, cancer assembles
6. Scientists reconstruct pre-Columbian human effects on the Amazon Basin
7. Scientists tie DNA repair to key cell signaling network
8. Top young Latin-American scientists named Pew Biomedical Fellows
9. 22 of Americas most promising scientists selected as Pew Biomedical Scholars
10. Berkeley Lab scientists help define the healthy human microbiome
11. Consortium of scientists maps the human bodys bacterial ecosystem
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/19/2016)... DUBAI , UAE, April 20, 2016 ... can be implemented as a compact web-based "all-in-one" system ... in the biometric fingerprint reader or the door interface ... requirements of modern access control systems. The minimal dimensions ... the ID readers into the building installations offer considerable ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... 2016 Research and Markets has ... Market 2016-2020,"  report to their offering.  , ... ,The global gait biometrics market is expected to ... period 2016-2020. Gait analysis generates multiple ... used to compute factors that are not or ...
(Date:4/13/2016)... , April 13, 2016  IMPOWER physicians supporting Medicaid ... setting a new clinical standard in telehealth thanks to ... leveraging the higi platform, IMPOWER patients can routinely track ... and body mass index, and, when they opt in, ... convenient visit to a local retail location at no ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June, 23, 2016  The Biodesign Challenge ... envision new ways to harness living systems and biotechnology, ... Art (MoMA) in New York City ... 130 participating students, showcased projects at MoMA,s Celeste Bartos ... Paola Antonelli , MoMA,s senior curator of architecture and ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... 2016 , ... In a new case report published today in STEM CELLS ... developed lymphedema after being treated for breast cancer benefitted from an injection of stem ... with this debilitating, frequent side effect of cancer treatment. , Lymphedema refers ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... -- On Wednesday, June 22, 2016, the NASDAQ ... Dow Jones Industrial Average edged 0.27% lower to finish at ... Stock-Callers.com has initiated coverage on the following equities: Infinity Pharmaceuticals ... NKTR ), Aralez Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ARLZ ... Learn more about these stocks by accessing their free trade ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 22, 2016  Amgen (NASDAQ: ... the QB3@953 life sciences incubator to accelerate ... The shared laboratory space at QB3@953 was created to ... key obstacle for many early stage organizations - access ... the sponsorship, Amgen launched two "Amgen Golden Ticket" awards, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: