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Carrots as effective as sticks for slowing Amazon deforestation

Date:
June 25, 2014
Source:
Virginia Tech
Summary:
Positive incentives for farmers, counties, and states can do as much to preserve forests as public policies that call for penalties. This is the conclusion of an international team of scientists that reviewed published research. Suggestions include simplified regulatory requirements or discounts on environmental licensing procedures, better terms on pre-harvest packages from commodity suppliers, and lower interest rates or better terms on loans from banks for legally compliant landholders.

Even though the rate of deforestation has declined, the immense canopy of the Amazon rainforest remains threatened.
Credit: Image courtesy of the Earth Innovation Institute

The rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has declined.

An international team of scientists, including one from Virginia Tech, reviewed published research about policy interventions and commodity market effects, and determined that positive incentives for farmers, counties, and states can do as much to preserve forests as public policies that call for penalties.

"The challenge now is to build upon this progress," the team reports in an article in the June 6 issue of Science. "Some immediate and simple positive incentives for responsible, low-deforestation farmers could be established without major new policies or markets for ecosystem services."

Suggestions include simplified regulatory requirements or discounts on environmental licensing procedures, better terms on pre-harvest packages from commodity suppliers, and lower interest rates or better terms on loans from banks for legally compliant landholders.

"Still, deforestation is only one of the threats to the Amazon region," said Leandro Castello, an assistant professor of fish and wildlife conservation in the College of Natural Resources and Environment at Virginia Tech, a co-author of the review article.

"There is an urgent need to shift the Amazon conservation paradigm to encompass the freshwater ecosystems, which are being rapidly degraded by deforestation and construction of hydroelectric dams," said Castello, who is first author on one of the articles reviewed. "We now know that freshwater ecosystems could be managed through policy and supply chains in a manner similar to that which is being done with deforestation."

Castello, whose specialty is Amazon fisheries, is leading a team from the Woods Hole Research Center and the University of California, Santa Barbara, funded by NASA, assessing the impacts on wetlands and river ecosystems caused by extreme climatic events in collaboration with Brazilian scientists.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Virginia Tech. The original article was written by Lynn Davis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. D. Nepstad, D. McGrath, C. Stickler, A. Alencar, A. Azevedo, B. Swette, T. Bezerra, M. DiGiano, J. Shimada, R. Seroa da Motta, E. Armijo, L. Castello, P. Brando, M. C. Hansen, M. McGrath-Horn, O. Carvalho, L. Hess. Slowing Amazon deforestation through public policy and interventions in beef and soy supply chains. Science, 2014; 344 (6188): 1118 DOI: 10.1126/science.1248525

Cite This Page:

Virginia Tech. "Carrots as effective as sticks for slowing Amazon deforestation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140625101133.htm>.
Virginia Tech. (2014, June 25). Carrots as effective as sticks for slowing Amazon deforestation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140625101133.htm
Virginia Tech. "Carrots as effective as sticks for slowing Amazon deforestation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140625101133.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

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