Canada the new Brazil of the north

Does Canada deserve the title of the new Brazil of the north?

Does Canada deserve the title of the new Brazil of the north?

In an article by William Marsden, Postmedia News, Sept. 4, 2014 in Washington — “The world’s virgin forests are being lost at an increasing rate and the largest portion of the degradation is in Canada, according to a new report.

“No longer is Brazil the main villain in the struggle to stop forest destruction.

“Canada is the number one in the world for the total area of the loss of intact forest landscapes since 2000,” Peter Lee, of Forest Watch Canada, said in an interview, the main drivers are fires, logging and energy and industrial development.

“Using satellite technology, scientists from the University of Maryland, Greenpeace, Global Forest Watch and the World Resources Institute have tracked changes in the earth’s forest coverage. The scientists discovered that the pace of decline is accelerating with more than 104 million hectares — about 8.1 per cent of global undisturbed forests — lost from 2000 to 2013.”

Unfortunately the article does not give the percentage of the fires, logging and energy and industrial development.

I don’t think natural fires are as detrimental as converting forests into pasture land or some industrial projects.

Historically some fires have been very destructive removing most of the original forest while other burns are less intense and leave a patch work of live trees which still maintain some functions of the original forest.

In most cases the burned land is allowed to return to its former state.

Climate change especially in the north is being blamed on the increased pace and intensity of the fires. Lee states that independent data verifies this massive increase in forest fires.

“The increase in temperatures in the north is much higher than the global average, he noted. You are getting these huge fires which are truly degrading and no longer a part, in many cases, of the natural historic functioning of fires in boreal forests,” he said.

“They are now transforming many of these northern boreal forests into shrub lands.”

One of the reasons Canada has become the leader in forest disturbance is because Brazil has done an amazing turn about in its deforestation.

The following information was taken from an article in BC Forest Views.

“Over the past nine years, the rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has dropped by 70 per cent.

“This success has been achieved despite high beef and soy prices, which in previous years had pushed deforestation upward, and during a time that Brazil had rapid economic growth and made important progress in reducing poverty, hunger, and inequality.

Key Concepts

Deforestation appeared to be an intractable problem for many years, with little progress in reducing it, despite many government and NGO projects and widespread global concern.

Brazil’s success has now shown that a large, rapid reduction in deforestation is possible. It has cut deforestation in the Amazon by 70 per cent, compared to the average level in 1996-2005, making zero deforestation by 2020 — or even sooner — a feasible goal.

Many actors deserve credit for the accomplishment.

They include Presidents Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff, Environment Minister/Green Party candidate Marina Silva, state governors, independent public prosecutors, NGOs, the voluntary moratoria by the soybean and beef industries, and the results-based financing provided by Norway ($1 billion).

The overwhelming role of soy and beef as causes of Amazon deforestation means that successful civil society pressure on these industries’ supply chains could lead to rapid reductions in deforestation.

Brazilian civil society, including indigenous groups, rubber tappers, labour unions, and environmentalists, were able to change the political dynamics and framing of the deforestation issue. They forced governments and businesses to act and thus made the success possible.

Brazil’s reduction in emissions from deforestation is the largest contribution so far by any country — rich or poor — to reducing global warming pollution.”

We should all be encouraged by what public pressure along with political will has accomplished in Brazil.

It is also noteworthy how a small country like Norway with a population of five million has used its wealth from its natural resources to take a leadership role in the world climate issue.

Jim Hilton is a professional agrologist and forester who has lived and worked in the Cariboo Chilcotin for the past 40 years. Now retired, Hilton still volunteers his skills with local community forests organizations.

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