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Cablegate: Brazil: Annual 2007/2008 Reports Shows Mixed Results In

VZCZCXRO5886
RR RUEHAST RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHPB RUEHPOD RUEHTM
DE RUEHBR #1666/01 3641040
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 291040Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3180
INFO RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 3260
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 7033
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 8849
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC
RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BRASILIA 001666

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR OES/PCI - L.SPERLING
DEPT FOR OES/ENCR - C.KARR-COLQUE AND C. DENNIS
DEPT FOR OES/EGC - D.NELSON AND T.TALLEY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV KGHG KSCA EAGR BR
SUBJECT: BRAZIL: ANNUAL 2007/2008 REPORTS SHOWS MIXED RESULTS IN
CONTROLLING AMAZON DEFORESTATION

REF: A) BRASILIA 1462, B) BRASILIA 1159,
C) BRASILIA 750

BRASILIA 00001666 001.2 OF 002


1. (U) THIS CABLE IS SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED AND NOT FOR
INTERNET DISTRIBUTION.

2. (SBU) SUMMARY. In its annual deforestation report, the
Brazilian National Space Research Institute (INPE) concluded that
for the August 2007 to July 2008 period deforestation in the Amazon
Forest rose by 3.8 percent to 11,968 square kilometers. At a
seminar on December 18, Environment Minister Carlos Minc
acknowledged that the deforestation rate had increased after three
years of decline from a peak of 27,000 square kilometers in the
2003/2004 period. Further, INPE reported that the area of the Amazon
Forest that was degraded, but not yet considered deforested, had
almost doubled from 14,915 square kilometers in 2007 to 24,932
square kilometers in 2008. Nonetheless, there were some positive
notes, in particular a dramatic 80 percent decline in the area
deforestation in the last three months of this period (which covers
the period since Minc entered into office). Similarly, Minc noted a
drop in the rate of deforestation in 22 of the 36 municipalities
targeted for special measures as "hot spots". The overall rise in
the deforestation rate comes at an inconvenient time as the
Government of Brazil (GOB) in December announced domestic targets to
reduce the annual rate to approximately 6,000 square kilometers by
2017 through its National Plan for Climate Change (REFTEL A). END
SUMMARY

3. (SBU) On December 5, the Brazilian National Space Research
Institute (INPE) announced the total deforestation numbers for the
August 2007 to July 2008 period. The analysis found a total
deforestation area of 11,968 square kilometers, which represents a
3.8 percent increase when compared to the previous period. At a
seminar on December 18, Environment Minister Carlos Minc noted, "All
of the previous estimates had predicted a rocket high increase in
total deforestation. [Even the Environment Minister had] expected
numbers in the 14 to 15 thousand square kilometer range."

4. (SBU) Regarding the future, Minc was emphatic, "I want zero
deforestation". A clear reference to the GOB's recently launched
National Plan for Climate Change goal of reducing to zero "illegal"
deforestation and the goal of planting by the year 2015, more trees
than the number cleared . For the 2008/2009 period, Minc predicted
that the rate would resume a declining trend and drop to about ten
thousand square kilometers.

5. (SBU) Minister Minc was pleased to point out a remarkable bright
spot. INPE determined that only 28 percent (or 3,300 square
kilometers) of the annual deforestation happened in the period of
April through July, which is the dry season and typically accounts
for over 70 percent of the annual clearing. This year's final
quarter figure represents a decrease of 80 percent compared with
the same period in the last three years. "The decrease for these
months is a clear sign that the law enforcement measures taken by
the government are working", explained the Director of INPE Gilberto
Camara. (NOTE: Minc did not have to mention that he became
Environment Minister in the end of May 2008, so that the vast
majority of the destruction occurred on his predecessor's watch.
END NOTE.)

6. (SBU) The State of Para was the leading state in deforestation,
with a total area of 5,180 square kilometers (NOTE: The number
represents a 5 percent decrease compared to the 2006/2007 numbers.
END NOTE) of forest cleared, followed by the State of Mato Grosso
(3,259 square kilometers compared with 2,678 the year before, an
increase of 22 percent). These two states comprised over seventy
percent of the country's total deforestation. An especially
worrisome number came from the State of Maranhao with the third
worse total of 1,085 square kilometers cleared. This number
represents a greater than 75 increase when compared to the previous
year. Maranhao State Environment Secretariat representative
Raimundo Calixto explained that his secretariat had few people and
had only been created in April 2006. For them, monitoring
deforestation is something very new,said Calixto. He added that the
illegal deforestation resulted from expanding soy production and
also production of charcoal for pig iron plants.

ARE ADDITIONAL LAW ENFORCEMENT EFFORTS WORKING?

7. (SBU) At a December 18 seminar, Minister Minc, Minister of
Science and Technology Sergio Rezende, and INPE Director Camara
discussed the results of deforestation efforts before a packed hall.

BRASILIA 00001666 002.2 OF 002


Minc credited tougher, more robust law enforcement efforts for the
sharp decline in the deforestation rate in the last quarter of the
period. He highlighted the need to have carrots in addition to
sticks. "We can close down 100 illegal jobs [involved in
deforesting] in an hour, but we can't create 100 new ones in an
hour," he commented. He expressed optimism that the Amazon Fund
(REFTEL B) would soon be supporting projects and payment for
environmental services, possibly starting as early as in March 2009.


8. (SBU) One of the tougher measures Minc hailed was the
Presidential Decree creating Park Guards, which when implemented
will strengthen the government's presence in the Amazon. He also
highlighted the measure to cut off government agriculture credits to
the 36 "hot spot" municipalities with the highest rates of
deforestation. Twenty-two of these 36 municipalities reported a
reduction in deforestation for the 2007/2008 period. The Brazilian
environmental agency (IBAMA) recently estimated that 76 percent of
the deforested area was cleared to create pastures for cattle.
Similarly, deforestation in large plots - bigger than 300 hectares
in size - was also brought down significantly. COMMENT. These
initial results suggest that the stepped up enforcement actions and
monitoring operations seem to be having positive effect. However,
the spotlight on the 36 municipalities had the side effect of
pushing the deforestation into adjacent areas which reported
increased deforestation rates over the last year. END COMMENT.

9. (SBU) The Plan for a Sustainable Amazon (PAS) unveiled in May is
supposed to help create alternative, legitimate jobs in the Amazon
(REFTEL C). PAS is overseen by Roberto Mangabeira Unger, the
Minister for Strategic Planning. At the December 18 seminar,
Minister Minc criticized the plan saying that the PAS is "blocked"
and that there was a certain "lack of integration" among different
sectors of the GOB. He lamented that his ministry was blamed for
high deforestation rates when other parts of the government were
also responsible for addressing parts of the deforestation problem.


NOT MUCH TO CELEBRATE - DEGRADED LANDS AT RISK

10. (SBU) A new monitoring system has detected an ominous
development in the Amazon. INPE has developed a new system called
DEGRAD that can detect partially cut, but not yet cleared, areas.
The previous system PRODES was not able to provide that level of
analysis. According to this new system, although the areas of
deforestation land measured in the last two years were almost equal,
the area of forest degraded (yet not completely cleared) jumped from
an estimated 14,915 square kilometers in 2007 to 24,932 square
kilometers in 2008, representing a 67 percent rise. "It is much
more likely that clear-cutting will occur in areas that have already
been degraded than in areas where the forest is intact", stated INPE
Director Gilberto Camara.

11. (SBU) COMMENT. That the 2007/2008 deforestation numbers were
not worse came as a relief to the GOB. As Minc conceded, the
government had been braced for a much higher figure. The overall
rise in the deforestation rate did come at an inconvenient time as
the GOB on December 1 had just announced domestic targets to reduce
the annual rate to approximately 6,000 square kilometers by 2017
through its National Plan for Climate Change. Despite the overall
bad news, there are some positive developments, not the least of
which is the GOB's heightened concern about the deforestation
problem in the Amazon. This points to the GOB being willing to
commit more effort and resources to tackling the problem. The
Brazilian government has its work cut out for it, especially with
the enormous quantity of partially degraded land poised to become
clear cut in the near future. END COMMENT.

KUBISKE

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