Great news for anyone keeping an eye on Brazil’s fortunes – the country welcomed a record number of tourists in 2016, boosted by the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Figures from the Latin American economy’s tourism department show 6.6 million international visitors last year as its big-ticket sporting events proved a huge draw.

That number is nearly five per cent higher than the number of international tourists that visited Brazil in 2015, in news bound to be welcomed by people watching investment trends, like forestry, in the country.

Those tourists spent money too: $6.2 billion last year, 6.2 per cent more than the $5.84 billion they parted company with in 2015.

The record visitor numbers is a spot of welcome good news for Brazil, which is currently in recession and trying to pull itself out, with supportive moves and measures being made by its president, Michel Temer.

So who is visiting? Well, Argentinians led the charge, with more than 2.1 million visiting, followed by Americans (600,000). Visitors from Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, France, Germany, Italy, England, Portugal and Spain were also received.

“We still have a lot to do to benefit in an efficient manner from the image legacy of the Olympic Games,” Brazil’s Tourism Minister Marx Beltrão said in a statement.

Of those who visited Brazil last year, 95 per cent intended to return, according to a survey by the tourism ministry.

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Renova Energia SA, Brazil’s renewable power generation company, is in discussions to sell its wind farm Alto Sertao II to the Brazilian unit of AES Corp for as much as 700 million reais, it has been reported.

Reuters said a source with direct knowledge of the matter confirmed that AES Corp, known as AES Brazil, submitted a formal proposal for the sale last week, with due diligence work also having taken place.

The Alto Sertao II wind farm has been in operation since 2014. It is thought that Renova could also use part of the proceeds to repay debts; the rest may go towards finishing construction of 400-megawatt wind farm Alto Sertao III, which is 90 per cent complete.

After Reuters reported the deal, shares in Renova accelerated, rising 22.5 percent to 7.35 reais.

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The Brazilian state of Sao Paulo is inviting private companies to pitch to run some of its state parks, it has been reported, in what could be good news for people thinking of investing in Brazil’s forestry sector.

Mongabay reports that Sao Paulo governor Geraldo Alckmin has signed a bill turning over the concessions of 25 state parks that represent a large spread of the Atlantic Forest to the private sector.

It means the company will manage and profit from ecotourism and other park activities. Commentators are concerned, however, about the impact on timber exploitation.

Governor Alckmin has assured the public that the 25 state parks are not being privatised. “Privatisation is when we sell something,” he was quoted as saying. “What we want is to make a concession for a time, bring a private partner in to improve maintenance issues, custody, preservation and use.”

NGOs think the move will lead to more deforestation but the government has said it will create a “close relation between people and the green”, Mongabay said.

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More and more countries are sending licensed timber products to the UK under a scheme designed to stop the sale of illegal timber in the EU.

Indonesia’s first shipment of wood licensed under the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) scheme is currently on its way to the UK, and many other operators are following suit.

The FLEGT scheme requires that certain timber and timber products imported from partner countries are covered by a licence.

Timber firms including Plaut International, James Latham and Falcon Panel Products say they are excited about receiving the first shipments, due to arrive on January 3rd, the Timber Trades Journal reported.

Brentwood-based Wood International Agency Ltd has also revealed that it will also be placing FLEGT-licensed plywood from Kayu Lapis Indonesia Group (KLI) that is on the first shipment.

Will Lindenberg, Wood International’s director, said the introduction of FLEGT-licensed plywood to the Wood International portfolio only served to further strengthen its offer.

“To have our products included in this first shipment of FLEGT-licensed timber is a proud moment for my company and for Indonesia,” said Buniadi Makmur, marketing director of KLI.

“We understand the importance of proof of legality through the supply chain. To now be able to supply our products with a FLEGT licence will give even greater confidence to our customers that our products meet all legislative requirements.”

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Global sales of softwood are forecast to show growth of nearly 15 per cent for 2016, a significant rise on market expectations.

Data from the Wood Resource Quarterly (WRQ) suggests that as the year draws to a close, worldwide trade in the lumber will have jumped about 14 per cent, some way up from the 1.7 per cent forecast by the World Trade Organisation’s September economic forecast.

Softwood, a wood from gymnosperm trees like conifers, makes up about 80 per cent of the world’s timber production.

TTJ Online reported the growth in trade as being driven by higher demand for wood from the US and China.

Global demand for lumber increased in 2015 (+10.2 per cent) and 2016 (predicted 13.6 per cent rise).

“The slow and steady improvements in the US housing market in 2016 have resulted in both higher production domestically and an increase in lumber imports, with the latter up 3.6% compared to the same period in 2015,” TTJ Online said.

“Prices for lumber surged in late 2015 and throughout 2016, with southern yellow pine prices jumping over 35 per cent in 12 months.”

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Forest operators are being asked to give their views on the current state of the harvesting resource in forests across England, Scotland and Wales.

Forest Research, the research agency of the Forestry Commission, has published details of its forest machinery census, which seeks to gather “valuable data” about forest resources and services in the UK.

The survey, seeks to understand the nature, size and capability of the harvesting resource throughout England, Scotland and Wales.

The anonymous polling will be used to better-target research and training and other support to the forestry sector. With the last census taking place over 10 years ago in 2011, there has no doubt been much change in the sector.

Duncan Ireland, Forest Research’s technical development project manager, said: “The harvesting sector has undergone a great deal of change since the last survey was done.

“Silviculture and market conditions have evolved and the type of machinery used today has responded, becoming more sophisticated and diverse. Efficiency and capacity have also increased.

“Updating our insight about the forest machinery in use today will help us to gauge the strength of the sector and its ability to meet future needs throughout England, Scotland and Wales.

“I would urge anyone who owns or operates forest harvesting machinery to spend a few minutes doing the survey. It will benefit everyone working in the forest harvesting sector.”

The census is online and contains 21 questions. It will run until February 2017, with a report containing the results published in spring 2017.

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The Scottish government has a much better understanding of the importance of forestry to the country’s economy than it has for decades, industry body Confor has said.

Its chief executive, Stuart Goodall, said forestry is now regarded as a”high political priority” with its scale and importance well understood.

After giving evidence to the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee at Holyrood, Mr Goodall said he was “optimistic” about the £1 billion sector’s future in Scotland, expressing hope the same will happen in England.

Stuart Goodall said: “It was great to hear the committee say that forestry is a priority and that they understand its scale and importance as a significant rural enterprise delivering £1 billion in annual economic value and providing more than 25,000 jobs.”

He added: “I will be giving evidence to the EFRA committee at Westminster on 6th December. We have highlighted the potential for forestry to deliver 7000 new jobs and to reduce carbon emissions in our evidence and in an earlier Confor report – as well as its potential to reduce flood risks, encourage biodiversity and provide tremendous social and recreational opportunities.

“Scotland has really grasped the nettle and understood the wide-ranging benefits of forestry – and we are working hard to ensure that Westminster politicians do the same.”

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Forests that die because of deforestation, drought, heat or beetle infestations could significantly impact ecosystems far beyond their local environment, according to researchers at the University of Washington (UW).

Wiping out an entire forest can have significant effects on global climate patterns and alter vegetation on the other side of the world, the team found.

“When trees die in one place, it can be good or bad for plants elsewhere, because it causes changes in one place that can ricochet to shift climate in another place,” said lead author Elizabeth Garcia, a UW postdoctoral researcher in atmospheric sciences. “The atmosphere provides the connection.”

Just as conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean can have distant effects through what we now understand as El Niño, the loss of a forest could generate a signal heard around the world — including by other plants.

Forest loss is known to have a nearby cooling effect, because without trees the Earth’s surface is more reflective and absorbs less sunlight, and loss of vegetation also makes air drier. These local effects of deforestation are well known.

But the new study shows major forest losses can alter global climate by shifting the path of large-scale atmospheric waves or altering precipitation paths. Less forest cover can also change how much sunlight is absorbed in the Northern versus the Southern hemispheres, which can shift tropical rain bands and other climate features.

“People have thought about how forest loss matters for an ecosystem, and maybe for local temperatures, but they haven’t thought about how that interacts with the global climate,” said co-author Abigail Swann, a UW assistant professor of atmospheric sciences and of biology. “We are only starting to think about these larger-scale implications.”

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The government is set to be seven years late in hitting its target of planting 11 million trees, forecasts from industry body Confor suggest.

Confor said government ministers including Andrea Leadsom and her predecessor Elizabeth Truss have repeatedly said that 11 million trees will be planted in the 2015-2020 parliamentary term.

But analysis of Forestry Commission statistics show just 1.35 million trees have been planted since the Conservative government came to office in the May 2015 election – an average of 75,166 trees per month.

“At that rate, it will take 12.2 years, taking us into late summer 2027, before the target is hit,” said Confor’s chief executive Stuart Goodall. “This simply isn’t good enough and much more needs to be done.

“We are very heartened by the recent announcement of the £19 million Woodland Carbon Fund – and the fact that it is targeted at schemes of more than 30 hectares.

“It is larger-scale planting that will really make a difference in hitting the target as well as delivering a wide range of economic, environmental and social benefits to our rural communities. We really encourage the industry to support this scheme and get more trees in the ground.”

“The more fundamental problem is what is described in the planting figures as ‘a slower uptake of the new grant’ under the Countryside Stewardship scheme. Confor and others warned that the scheme would be cumbersome and unattractive and that proved to be the case.

“Defra and Forestry Commission England are seeking to understand the practical barriers to planting trees and there is a strong argument to follow Scotland’s lead where a former Chief Planner Jim Mackinnon was appointed by the forestry minister to examine what those barriers are and how to overcome them.”

Scotland has planted an annual average of 7,000 hectares of trees per year over the last five years and the Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, Fergus Ewing, has committed to meeting the annual target of 10,000 hectares, which equates to at least 20 million trees every year.

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Great news for anything wanting to invest in Brazil’s forestry sector: the country is on its way out of recession, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In its annual review on the state of the Brazilian economy, the IMF notes that Brazil’s economic problems are “nearing their end” – but it warns that the country’s government must kick on with its reform plan if it is to really succeed.

According to the report, Latin America’s largest economy has suffered its deepest recession in decades. Since the beginning of 2015, the unemployment rate has doubled to more than 11 percent and 2.7 million formal jobs have been lost.

But there is good news.

“A gradual recovery is expected to start in the second half of 2016, assuming that reforms continue, political uncertainty diminishes, and that other economic shocks run their course,” the IMF said.

“The IMF projects output growth of -3.3 per cent in 2016 and 0.5 percent in 2017.

“Faster-than-expected progress on the reform agenda represents an upside risk that could spark a more vigorous recovery in investment, boosting foreign interest in Brazil, even as global interest rates remain low.”

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Brazil is in difficult times. Its economy is struggling, the country’s currency has flopped in the aftermath of the Trump result and the country is in one of its deepest recessions. While its football team looks to be firmly on its way to the 2018 World Cup, it’s fair to say Brazil has lived through more prosperous times.

But change is afoot. I’m going to hedge my bets a little bit here, but, I think we could expect to see signs of growth in Brazil’s forestry industry in the coming months. Here are a couple of reasons why.

Michel Temer
Since coming to power just six months ago, Brazil’s President Michel Temer has made waves. Or at least tried to. He didn’t come in in easy circumstances: he replaced impeached former President Dilma Rousseff during volatile political times for the country. But, since then, he has attempted to introduce packages and stimulus to get Brazil’s economy and industry moving again.

These include:

Signing co-operation agreements with Japan and India, with a particular focus on agriculture.
Having Brazil’s central bank cut the country’s interest rate for the first time in four years – 14 per cent from 14.25 per cent, to drive the economy.
Boosting forecasts for GDP. At the start of Temer’s reign, projections for Brazil’s GDP growth for 2017 were 0.5 per cent. Now they’re at 1.2 per cent.

It’s early days, sure, but Temer has started strongly.

With forestry being one of Brazil’s richest industries, go here if you’d like more information on investing in timber there.

Latin America’s strongest economy
We should not forget that, by some distance, Brazil’s is the strongest economy in Latin America. Growth might be modest, but at least Brazil is weathering the storm. Unlike other countries, it is not in severe deterioration. It’s bad, yes, but not that bad.

Analysts say yes
Okay, so some say we shouldn’t pay heed to experts, but I think they know what they’re talking about, don’t you? Brazil’s top minds have been getting out and about recently, reminding the world that Brazil is ripe for investment.

For example: Brazil politicians attended an event at London Business School last month, talking up the country’s prospects and backing Temer’s reform package. Fernando Bezerra, Brazil’s mining and energy minister, said the government was keen to secure private investment for 34 infrastructure, oil and gas projects across the country.

“We are betting that the Brazilian economy will recover soon and it’s already showing signs,” he said. “We’re optimistic that the market will recognise our efforts.”

Brazil’s forestry sector is concrete
The country’s forestry and timber industry is not an emerging one: it’s a central plank in Brazil’s economy and regarded by the government as a major component of the financial success and stability of Brazil. By June 2012, Brazil had 7.74 million hectares of certified forest.

This South American country is home to the third-largest remaining frontier forest on the planet, making up about 17% of the world’s frontier forests, and it has the highest biodiversity in terms of the plants that these forests accommodate.

So not only is the forestry industry one of Brazil’s most successful – the government also recognises its importance, and, one would hope, will do everything it can to keep it strong.

I for one will be keeping a close eye on forestry investment in Brazil in 2017.

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English Carbon Fund welcomed

November 16th, 2016

The forestry industry is pleased an additional £19 million has been invested to support productive planting in England.

Confor said it “strongly welcomed” the announcement by the government.

The money will support the creation of new woodlands over 30 hectares, helping to meet future carbon targets.

“Confor has lobbied hard for greater productive tree planting, and this additional funding will help to provide the resource that the forestry sector needs for the future”, said Confor chief executive Stuart Goodall.

Following the Paris Agreement on climate change, through which countries have pledged to meet carbon targets, Confor cited tree planting as a cost-effective way to reduce carbon in the atmosphere.

“This fund will target the planting of forests over 30 hectares, the scale needed to make a new forest viable for producing future supplies of wood, as well as delivering the wide range of environmental benefits that modern forests provide,” Mr Goodall explained.

Announcing the new fund, Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said: “This new fund will encourage large scale planting, helping us reduce our carbon footprint, while creating new forests to enjoy for generations to come.”

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A consultation that could alter the way forests are managed in Scotland is set to end.

The Scottish government’s proposals include creating a new body to manage the country’s forests, new legislation and a Holyrood Forestry Division.

While some forests are managed on a UK-wide level, Scotland’s government wants devolution of the sector, which is worth £1 billion and supports 2,500 jobs, the BBC reported.

Holyrood sets policy for forestry in Scotland but the management of it is overseen by the Forestry Commission.
Under the plans, in the Forestry Commission’s place would see a new agency, Forestry and Land Scotland, created to manage all publicly-owned land and plantations.

The Forestry Act of 1967 would be replaced with what ministers call “a modern approach to the development, support and regulation of forestry”, the BBC reported.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “Firstly, we think that forestry should be directly accountable to the people of Scotland through the Scottish government and the Scottish Parliament. This bill will do that.

“Secondly, of course forestry is hugely important to Scotland, employing 25,000 people and generating £1bn a year – and it can be even more successful still.

“So we have ambitious targets to plant more trees to achieve our environmental targets and also further to grow a very successful part of Scotland’s rural economy.”

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Small agriculture projects have the potential to damage the rainforests, a new study has found.

A researcher at Lund University in Sweden mapped the effects of smaller farmers on forests in south-east Asia and found significant long-term effects on environmental impact, biodiversity and the economy.

Yann Clough, a researcher at the Faculty of Science at Lund, has mapped the choice of trees and agricultural methods of small-scale Indonesian farmers.

With a group of 40 researchers from Germany, Indonesia, Switzerland and New Zealand, Clough has assessed the biodiversity and ecosystem functions in natural forest, in traditional agroforests and in monocultures of palm oil and rubber trees, as well as interviewing 450 small scale farmers.

“For the great majority of small farmers, chopping down diverse forests and investing in a single species of tree – monoculture – is the simplest and quickest path out of poverty. Productivity increases, the financial risk drops and income rises,” Clough said.

“Since the small farmers earn more with monoculture, sustainability aspects and the effects on nature currently are almost entirely unheeded. Changing the production methods of small farmers requires financial incentives along with political will; otherwise there is a risk that rich and productive agricultural land will have disappeared altogether in 20 years,” Clough added.

The study is presented in an article in the online scientific journal Nature Communications.

Find out more about investing in Brazil’s forestry sector here.

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Brazil ‘ripe for reform’

November 4th, 2016

Brazil’s economy could be reformed as part of an effort to restore its long-term growth, the government’s finance minister has said.

Henrique Meirelles told local media that the Brazilian economy is “ripe” for reforms, the Brics Post reported.

Brazil’s economy, the biggest in Latin America, is in deep recession, having contracted significantly this year. Some analysts expect the country’s gross domestic product to shrink by 303 per cent this year alone.

Economists’ forecasts for inflation and interest rates have also been cut, the website reported.

A potential package of reforms could revitalise the country’s finances after years of heavy spending, which has caused a growth slowdown and reduced confidence in the Brazilian economy.

“There is no doubt that the resumption of growth will be a slower process than in previous crises,” Mr Meirelles was quoted as saying.

Find out more about investing in Brazil’s forestry sector here.

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Air pollution is a growing problem in urban areas all over the world. How to solve the problem? Planting more trees could be a good – and cost-effective – way to do it, according to new research.

A study by a team at the US-based Nature Conservancy found that when particulate matter is close to a tree it reduces, on average, by between seven per cent and 24 per cent, the BBC has reported.

Particulate matter is the name for the mix of solid particles and liquid droplets that are found in the air. These can include dust, dirt and soot. It’s possible to inhale particulate matter – and it can cause serious health problems. The Nature Conservancy forecasts that it could claim the lives of more than six million people every year by 2050.

Planting trees in urban areas offers lots of benefits to city dwellers, said Dr Rob McDonald, the lead author of the study.

“The average reduction of particulate matter near a tree is between seven and 24 per cent while the cooling effect is up to 2C (3.6F),” he told BBC News. “There are already tens of millions of people getting those kinds of benefits.”

Dr McDonald added that the research found planting trees to be a cost-effective method for cooling and cleaning air.

“On that front, trees are cost competitive with other options,” he explained.

“When you change a bus from diesel to gasoline, for example, you reduce particulate matter pollution, and trees are certainly in the same ballpark.”

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In yet another sign of the growing appetite for investment in Brazil’s many sectors, its trade and investment agency says it should sign agricultural contracts worth $1.2 million following a successful appearance at a major food trade show.

The Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex Brazil) enjoyed a successful appearance at SIAL, the world’s largest food innovation exhibition, held recently in Paris.

As a major meeting point for international agribusiness firms, Apex Brazil is confident it will sign contracts worth more than $1 million over the next 12 months, news it said it “highly welcomed”.

During the five-day event, more than 100 food and beverage companies showcased their products and services to the trade visitors, leading to more than 11,200 business meetings.

“50 years ago we were mainly an importing country,” said Roberto Jaguaribe, president of Apex Brazil. “The technological and agricultural revolution we’ve experienced enabled us to completely reverse the trend and become the number three world exporter in agribusiness. The SIAL is one of the best places to promote our assets.”

Apex Brazil said its major focus at SIAL was to promote its sustainable agribusiness offering. Brazil’s Forest Code, established in the 1960s, is the “most restrictive and sophisticated legislation of its type in the world”, Apex Brazil said. The code stipulates that a proportion of Brazil’s rural land should be permanently maintained as forest.

And since 1977, production has been multiplied five-fold, whereas production surfaces have decreased. The agency said Brazil can more than double its production capacity without adversely affecting the country’s native vegetation.

Brazil is the second-largest producer of agribusiness products, exporting $88.2 billion to 200 markets. It;s also the third-largest exporter of food products, especially orange juice, sugar, coffee and soybean.

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This week I’ve read that Confor, the sustainable forestry organisation, is calling on the government to put more money in so we can grow more trees, boosting the forestry sector and helping us comply with the recent Paris Agreement on greenhouse gas emissions in the process.

Well, hurrah. About time too. A committed, modern, forward-thinking approach to forestry development? Who would have thought it.

As a forestry investor – one who’s green-minded too, this is great news. Confor have written to Therese Coffey, the Forestry Minister, to make the case for more funding to plant forests in England.

Confor want new forests to grow more productive softwood trees – these trees grow fast, hold carbon quickly and, when they’re harvested, lock that carbon up in wood products, especially when used in production.

This carbon can be counted when the UK does its greenhouse gas reporting because the wood comes from UK forests. It’s a win-win.

“Tree planting is a low-cost way to meet the UK government’s carbon reduction targets, and now that the UK has signed the Paris Agreement, Confor believes that additional funding should be provided to support more new planting,” Confor chief executive Stuart Goodall said.

Confor also say that planting more ‘productive forestry’ would support the English forest and timber industry, which could do with some help, as it’s facing a shortfall of wood over the coming years that, it’s feared, will damage the rural economy.

“The UK saw milling, panel board and wood energy sectors are facing a falling off in supply from the 2030s, threatening hundreds of jobs in rural areas where there are often few alternative sources of employment,” Confor said.

Since the publication of a report called Combating Climate Change, it’s been clear that planting trees is a low-cost way to sequester carbon and help the Government meet its demanding greenhouse gas reduction targets – it plans to reduce the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050. Trees planted now will have particular impact in the 2030s and 2040s when the UK will be struggling with ever harder actions to reduce emissions ahead of 2050.

UK forests are generally agreed to be good places to put your money. Figures on returns vary, but you should (and I say should) be able to expect healthy bang for your buck. Figures from the IPD Annual Forestry Index show a total return of 10.8 per cent for 2015, easily beating returns on many other asset classes.

However, be mindful of additional costs. You’ll have to pay maintenance fees to keep the land in tip-top shape. This will of course eat into your costs, but, on the whole, forestry investment can be well worth your while. Consider speaking to a forestry investment expert if you’re interested learning more about it. That’s what I did.

Til next time.


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Brazil’s central bank has cut the country’s interest rate for the first time in four years as it attempts to dig itself out of a deep recession.

The bank’s monetary policy committee, Copcom, cut the benchmark short-term interest rate (known as Selic) 25 points to 14 per cent from a long-term high of 14.25 per cent.

The South American country is in one of its worst recessions, but it’s hoped the cut, along with progressive moves being made by its government, will help steer it out through tough times. With forestry being one of Brazil’s richest industries, go here if you’d like more information on investing in timber there.

Copcom members said the bank would embark on a “moderate and gradual” easing cycle, assessing the pace and magnitude of monetary easing over time.

“The magnitude of monetary easing and a possible speeding up of its pace will depend on a favourable evolution of factors that allow greater confidence on meeting the inflation targets at the relevant horizon for the conduct of monetary policy,” committee members said.

Analysts say the lower rates will help Michel Temer, Brazil’s president, bolster an economic recovery. In recent days Mr Temer has announced a number of co-operation agreements with other countries to foster progress in Brazilian industries including agriculture.

The bank said it forecast inflation at 4.3 per cent in 2017 and 3.9 per cent in 2018, but confirmed that private estimates remain above the 4.5 per cent of the official target for both years. Annual inflation is currently 8.48 per cent.

For nearly 10 years, Brazil’s central bank has held the central rate as it struggled to bring down inflation. But a recent slowdown in inflation gave Copcom members the confidence to approve the interest rate cut.

Commentators said the cut could be a sign that more rate cuts are on the cards.

“We believe the central bank will have enough elements to step up the pace of easing to 50 basis points at its next meeting despite the caution expressed today,” economists at Sao Paulo-based investment house Haitong told Reuters.

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Brazilian landowners are clearing more rainforest than government figures would suggest, a study by US researchers shows.

A team at Brown University found that an area of the Amazon rainforest about the size of Puerto Rico was cleared between 2008 and 2012 – but it wasn’t picked up by Brazil’s official deforestation monitoring tool, known as PRODES.

The Brown scientists, whose research is published in the journal Conservation Letters, said while PRODES had done a lot of good work in curbing Brazilian deforestation, landowners were finding ways to “work around it”, destroying important forests in the process.

They compared data from the PRODES tool with two independent satellite measures of forest cover and found close to 9,000 square kilometers of destroyed forest missing from the PRODES monitoring.

PRODES, or the Monitoring Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon by Satellite Project, monitors deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon and the government has been producing annual deforestation rates using its data since 1988.

It has been a success: according to the tool’s data, the amount of destroyed rainforest has dropped from 25,000 square miles in 2003 to an average of 5,300 square miles between 2009 and 2013.

The Brown team say the PRODES data should be regarded as inaccurate because the tool only monitors ‘prime’ Amazon rainforest – not dry forests, secondary forests and forest plots smaller than 6.25 hectares.

“PRODES essentially masks out these regions and treats them as non-forest,” said Leah VanWey, who co-authored the research and is senior deputy director at Brown’s institute and environment department.

“We wanted to compare the PRODES maps with satellite sources that just look at canopy cover, without those exclusions. We showed that while deforestation in large plots of primary rainforests has declined, it has expanded in these areas not tracked by PRODES.”

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