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Cablegate: Brazil Announces Dramatic Decline in Amazon Deforestation

VZCZCXRO6143
RR RUEHAO RUEHCD RUEHGA RUEHGD RUEHGR RUEHHA RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG
RUEHNL RUEHQU RUEHRD RUEHRG RUEHRS RUEHTM RUEHVC
DE RUEHBR #1674/01 2431729
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 311729Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9865
INFO RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 5033
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 0713
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 7095
RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BRASILIA 001674

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

DEPT PASS TO OES/PCI, OES/ETC, OES/EGC

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV ETRD EAGR KSCA BR
SUBJECT: BRAZIL ANNOUNCES DRAMATIC DECLINE IN AMAZON DEFORESTATION


BRASILIA 00001674 001.2 OF 002


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

2. (SBU) SUMMARY. Brazil reports a sharp decline, 25 percent, in
its rate of deforestation for the year 2006. Further, it estimates
that the rate will drop another 30% in 2007. END SUMMARY.

CONTINUING DECLINES IN THE DEFORESTATION RATE

3. (SBU) The Government of Brazil (GoB) states that the rate of
deforestation of the Amazon rainforest declined 25% for the year
2006 (the period between August, 2005 and July 2006), when compared
to the same period the previous year. The numbers were announced by
Environmental Minister Marina Silva together with three other
Ministers during a news conference on August 10, 2007. In addition,
she announced that seven out of the nine states in Brazil's Amazon
region had deforestation rate reductions. Further, the Ministry of
Science and Technology calculates that this reduction avoided 410
million tons of CO2 emissions, the destruction of 600 million trees
and 20,000 birds.

4. (SBU) At the same news conference, Minister Silva also
presented estimated figures for the deforestation rate in 2007. The
GoB preliminary estimates for 2007 indicate another 30% reduction in
the deforestation rate for the Amazon region. An estimated 9,600
square km of the rainforest were cleared in the current year that
ended July 31, 2007 compared to a revised 14,039 square km, the
previous year. If the estimates are confirmed, the rate will be the
lowest figure since 1988, when the country's satellite monitoring
system was implemented. A final report is expected to be ready by
November, 2007. If confirmed, this would mark the third year in a
row of major drops in the rate of deforestation.

REACTIONS TO ANNOUNCEMENT

5. (SBU) In late August, Minister of External Affairs Celso Amorim
declared that 15 years after the Rio 92 environment conference, GoB
measures have resulted in an overall 50% decline in the
deforestation rate of the Amazon. He later told a Brazilian
congressional committee that Brazil was no longer in a defensive
posture on climate change, it would now go into a offensive mode.

6. (SBU) More control on illegal logging, improved certification
of land ownership, and economic development projects that preserve
the forest are the main reasons driving the deforestation rate down,
said President's Chief of Staff Dilma Rousseff during the August 10
news conference. All of these actions are part of the
implementation of the first phase of GoB's Plan for the Control of
the Deforestation Rate of the Amazon (PPCDA), which started in 2004.
Minister Silva stated that for the second phase of the plan the
rate reduction process will continue trying to reach a zero percent
illegal deforestation rate.

7 (SBU) In recent meeting with ESTH officers in the Brazilian
Ministry of Environment, Secretary for Climate Change and
Environmental Quality Thelma Krug said that the deforestation drop
is result of action by governments at various levels, and better law
enforcement and monitoring on behalf of the GoB.

8. (SBU) Some question the GoB statements about reducing the
deforestation rates. The head of one national NGO working in the
Amazon region, which has substantial expertise in the cartography
field, points out that there has been a significant increase in
fires in the region in the last year. The National Institute for
Space Research (INPE) reported a 39 percent increase in the volume
of fires in the Amazon comparing January 2006 to January 2005.
Further, the NGO leader claimed that the GoB has poor monitoring of
some of the most vulnerable areas to incursion, such as along the
western border in the state of Rondonia and on the northeastern
border in the state of Amapa. This expert concluded that these
factors point to a higher deforestation rate than the one announced
by the GoB.

COMMENT

9. (SBU) The Lula Administration has clearly made reducing the
deforestation rate a priority. And the GoB has taken measures to
accomplish this goal: increased monitoring; raids on illegal
logging; and expanded protected areas. We have noted improvements
in forest management in many states - with some noteable exceptions
- and localities in the region. The GoB deserves credit for turning
around what had been an alarming and accelerating rate of
deforestation. The next set of challenges may well come as an
unintended result of GoB's other priorities: a sharp increase in
infrastructure projects (hydroelectric facilities, roads, etc.), and
an emphasis on increasing sugar cane production. End Comment

BRASILIA 00001674 002.2 OF 002

CHICOLA

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