Deforestation in Latin America is slowing but still at elevated levels, says FAO

Deforestation has slowed in the last decade in America, but still remains high, since between 2000 and 2010 it lost almost 13 million hectares of forests, mainly from agricultural activities, said today in Costa Rica a FAO official.

The Deputy Regional Representative for Latin America of the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Alan Bojanic, said that agriculture and mining are the main activities that promote forest clearing in the region.

“In the nineties we had a deforestation rate of about 16 million hectares per year. The pace has slowed but is still widespread degradation,” he said.

Bojanic, who is in San Jose for the eighth Latin American Congress of Forestry, Environmental

Law, said that the problem of deforestation is even greater if one takes into account their contribution to increased greenhouse gases.

“Globally, nearly 17% of these gases come from the destruction and cutting of forests,” he explained.

The specialist said that the high prices of food and minerals in the international market have driven the expansion of the agricultural and mining at the expense of forest conservation.

“Missing lots of incentive for conservation which makes it very difficult to compete, for example there is a big difference between the economic value of having a hectare of forest in front of a hectare of pineapple,” he said.

According to Bojanic, it have grown rapidly in South America soybean crops and cereals, and while food production is essential and a priority, is necessary to find ways to produce more efficiently in areas that have already been exploited.

America maintains, he said, about 50% of forest cover, especially in the Amazon, accounting for 23% of the world’s forests, with the peculiarity of having the forests with the richest biodiversity on Earth.

Chile, Costa Rica, Uruguay and El Salvador show a positive rate relative to the increase in area of ​​forest cover. However, are Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia and Venezuela, the countries with the largest forest in the region, representing 84% of the total forest area in Latin America.

This wealth is threatened by illegal logging, which provides about 50% of the wood used on the continent.

All of these elements, as determined by Bojanic, reveal that there is a strong institutional weakness in environmental matters.

“Only 40% of the countries have explicit forest policy,” said the FAO representative, adding that while laws are being created continuously for conservation, most of them left in the paper and is rarely executed.

“There is an important dynamic in the making of laws, the states produce an impressive amount of legislation but the actual levels of control are very low,” he said.

FROM | EFE

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