Up to 15 million hectares of tropical rainforest in the Brazilian Amazon could lose protection and be clear-cut because of an article in the country's new Forest Code.
The warning comes from Brazilian researchers at the University of São Paulo's Luiz de Queiroz College of Agriculture (ESALQ-USP) and Swedish researchers at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg.
They recently published a paper on the subject in Nature Sustainability. The study was derived from a project supported by São Paulo Research Foundation - FAPESP. "The 15 million hectares that could become deprotected as a result of this rule in the new Forest Code are roughly equivalent to the entire legal reserve deficit that needs to be offset or restored in Brazil, and they consist mainly of tropical rainforest," Gerd Sparovek , a professor at ESALQ-USP and a coauthor of the paper, told.
"Loss of these areas to agriculture could nullify the effort to regularize legal reserves in Brazil and result in huge losses of biodiversity, impair ecosystem services of great value to society, such as water supply, and increase greenhouse gas emissions."