How China is Shaping the Future of the Amazon

March 1, 2013

Chinese financing and investment in Amazonian infrastructure such as railways and mineral processing facilities have additional impacts. The authors say the “direct impact of commodity exports is only the tip of the iceberg of Chinese influence on Amazonia.”

In a 2012 paper entitled Amazonian forest loss and the long reach of China’s Influence, the authors found that “the rapid rise in exports of soy and beef products to China are two of the major drivers of Amazonian deforestation in Brazil.” Credit: Robert Middleton

“Money earned from this trade is strengthening Brazilian agribusiness interests, with profound effects on domestic politics that are reflected in legislative and administrative changes, weakening environmental protection”. Amazonian forest loss and the long reach of China’s Influence 2012 Fearnside, Figueiredo, Bonjour

“Brazil’s 2011–2020 10-year energy-expansion plan (Ministry of Mines and Energy, 2011) calls for 30 large dams to be built in the Legal Amazon [the greater Amazon basin] by 2020, a rate of one dam every four months. Amazonian forest loss and the long reach of China’s Influence 2012 Fearnside, Figueiredo, Bonjour

Meanwhile a recent study produced by Imazon (Amazon Institute of People and The Environment), a well-respected research institute based in Belem, has shown that deforestation could be drastically reduced by increasing productivity

Traditionally, Amazon cattle farmers have never bothered about productivity, because it has been so easy just to clear more forest. The Imazon study shows that future projected demand could be entirely met without the need to cut down a single tree, if productivity was increased from the present average of 80 kilos of beef per hectare to 300 kilos.To help farmers learn the new techniques, Imazon suggests that an annual investment of about $500 million would be enough to pay for technical assistance, reference centers for each region, and model farms to demonstrate good practice.

Traditionally the government has relied on applying hefty fines for illegal clearing. This has two big disadvantages: the deforestation is detected only when it has already happened, and because of Brazil`s complex and lengthy judicial process, the fines are almost never paid. In addition, the powerful farmers` lobby in Congress is adept at voting through “amnesties” at regular intervals to pardon unpaid fines.

Now a more intelligent way to inhibit deforestation has been found, this time by the Central Bank. A bank resolution, passed in 2008, compels farmers to prove they are in compliance with environmental laws before they can obtain credit from any official bank.

– See more at:

There is a diversity of ways to go about this intensification of meat production. It’s interesting option consider. What possibilities are there to consider and which ones are being considered? If the underlying logic is mere increase of exploitation with no consideration of ecology the problem of ecosystemic disruption and destruction does not dissappear..


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