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Cablegate: Brazil Announces Lowest Rate of Deforestation of Amazon

VZCZCXRO8196
OO RUEHAST RUEHDH RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHPB RUEHPOD RUEHRG RUEHSL
RUEHTM RUEHTRO
DE RUEHBR #1408/01 3381752
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O R 041750Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0015
INFO ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 0009
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BRASILIA 001408

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV KGHG KSCA EAGR BR
SUBJECT: BRAZIL ANNOUNCES LOWEST RATE OF DEFORESTATION OF AMAZON
FOREST EVER RECORDED

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

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. On November 12, Brazilian Environment Minister
Carlos Minc announced Brazil's lowest ever Amazon deforestation
rate since monitoring began in 1988. A total of 7,008 square
kilometers of forest were cleared, which represents a 45 percent
drop from the previous annual period. On the next day, President
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva rolled out Brazil's position to be
presented at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change (UNFCCC) meeting in Copenhagen in December 2009. The heart
of the Brazilian position is an 80 percent reduction in the rate of
deforestation of the Amazon forest by 2020 compared with the
1990-2005 average. END SUMMARY

LOWEST EVER DEFORESTATION RATE

2. (SBU) During an event at the Presidential office on November
12, Environment Minister Carlos Minc announced Brazil's
deforestation rate for the 2008/2009 period. The 7,008 square
kilometers (or 2,705 square miles) of Amazon forest that was
cleared is the lowest quantity since the Government of Brazil (GOB)
started monitoring deforestation in the region in 1988. President
Lula and the Head of the President's Office, Minister Dilma
Rousseff, both of whom are going to Copenhagen, were present at the
announcement.

3. (SBU) "The new deforestation data represents an extraordinary
and significant reduction for Brazil", President Lula commented
during the event. Indeed the number represents a 45 percent
decline when compared to the previous 2007/2008 period. Another
positive aspect is that all, except one, of the 36 municipalities
with the highest deforestation rates last year reduced their rate
of clearing this year. The GOB had concentrated its law
enforcement efforts on these 36 municipalities. The Brazilian
National Space Research Institute (INPE), which provided the
analysis, noted that the current numbers are estimates and have a
standard error of plus or minus 10 percent and that their final
report for the 2008/2009 year will be released in March 2010. The
two states with the most deforestation were again Para and Mato
Grosso with 3,687 and 1,047 square kilometers clearing and these
numbers represent a 35 percent and a 68 percent drop for both
states respectively.

4. (SBU) Minister Minc claimed that the GOB's law enforcement
actions and other efforts were responsible for 90 percent of this
year's reduction. Environment NGO community celebrated the
decrease, though they pointed out that even though police efforts
against illegal clearing has definitely improved, other factors
were involved. Most notably, there has been a decline in
agriculture prices for beef and soy, which when high are considered
major drivers behind deforestation.

REDUCING AMAZON DEFORESTATION BY 80% BY 2020

5. (SBU) On the next day, President Lula announced Brazil's
position to be presented at the United Nations Framework Convention
on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Copenhagen. The country's target
refers to cuts in its economy-wide emissions in the magnitude of
36.1 percent to 38.9 percent by the year 2020. See REFTEL. At the
core of the Brazilian position, which envisions a total reduction
of greenhouse gas emissions of up to 1.052 billion tons in 2020, is
an 80 percent drop in the rate of deforestation of the Amazon
forest by 2020 compared with the 1990-2005 average (19,500 square
kilometers). Such reduced deforestation would lower Brazil's
greenhouse gas emissions by 564 million tons per year or about 53
percent of the goal. The GOB plans to incorporate this objective
in its domestic National Climate Change Plan. That plan must go to
the Senate for approval.

BRASILIA 00001408 002 OF 002


THE CERRADO

6. (SBU) While the lion's share of Brazil's cuts in emissions are
supposed to come from reducing deforestation in the Amazon, the
second most important emission reduction measure is lowering the
deforestation rate in the Cerrado by 40 percent by 2020. This
measure would reduce emissions by 104 million tons per year. The
Cerrado Biome covers parts of the center-west, southeast, north and
northeast parts of Brazil. It covers a total of 2 million square
kilometers (NOTE: The Amazon Forest covers 3.6 million square
kilometers and approximately 20 percent of it, or 700,000 square
kilometers, has been brought down. END NOTE) and approximately 39
percent of this area has already been deforested. The average
deforestation area for the last five years in the biome has been
about 22,000 square kilometers, which represents three times more
than the current deforestation area for the Amazon.

7. (SBU) Unlike the Amazon, there are no specific programs or
policies to protect the Cerrado, which means that Brazil is
essentially starting the protection of the biome from scratch.
Moreover, recent independent studies and researches have concluded
that the emissions from deforestation in the Cerrado may soon be
several times greater than those of the Amazon.

8. COMMENT. The latest Amazon deforestation numbers were lower
than what the GOB had expected. Brazilian officials had been
working with a 9,000 square kilometers estimate for this time
period. The GOB deserves credit for making a major contribution to
this reduction through its various law enforcement and protection
measures. These results come at a good time because they help give
the GOB confidence that it can achieve the ambitious emissions
reductions it plans to put on the table in Copenhagen. END COMMENT


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