Brazil has become the world leader in reducing deforestation and, at the same time, has increased its soy and beef production, researchers report in the journal Science. The country has cut its forest loss by 70 percent since 2004, sparing more than 86,000 square kilometers of rainforests and keeping more than 3.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
Brazil’s decline in deforestation in 2013 alone represented a 1.5 percent reduction in global emissions that year, the report says; globally, tropical forest loss accounts for 15 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions.
The analysis credits the success to bold government policies, pressure from environmental groups, and market fluctuations in the price of soy and beef, but the authors warn that these wins may be short-lived without more positive incentives for farmers. “These gains are globally significant, but fragile,” one researcher explained. “We’re bumping up against the limits of what can be achieved through punitive measures.”