Environmental conservation strategies and values
In two articles published in the November issue of Nature Sustainability, “Spatially Explicit Valuation of the Brazilian Amazon forest’s Ecosystem Services” and “Traditional conservation strategies still the best option”, Brazilian researchers call for a comeback of traditional conservation strategies and evaluate the ecosystem services provided by the Amazon
The Brazilian Amazon still holds 340 million hectares of forested areas. Of these, 62 million hectares are non-designated areas that may be subject to a disorderly occupation based on the private appropriation of public lands. An article published in Nature Sustainability led by Brazilian scientists calculate part of the monetary value of the standing forest, showing the importance of protecting this environmental patrimony not only due to its rich biodiversity and other innumerable environmental services, but also to guarantee the sustainability of agricultural production for the country’s next generations.
The article “Spatially Explicit Valuation of the Brazilian Amazon forest’s Ecosystem Services” led by Prof. Britaldo Soares-Filho from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) in partnership with Jon Strand of the World Bank presents an unprecedented effort to value in monetary terms the environmental services provided by the Amazon forest. The article shows that deforestation of one hectare in some regions of the forest generates annual losses of up to US$ 40 for the production of Brazil nuts and US$ 200 for sustainable timber production. It was also calculates the indirect impact of deforestation on the productivity of agriculture and hydroelectric power generation due to the role of the forest in regulating the rainfall regime, and the social cost of the greenhouse gas emissions. The benefit of various services can reach, in certain areas, 737 dollars per hectare / year, much higher, for example, to that generated by low productivity livestock.
Based on the combination of the value of these environmental services the authors estimate that the Amazon forest can contribute to the country’s economy with US $ 8.2 billion a year. From this total, US $ 3.3 billion are generated from forests in private areas, while the areas of integral protection, sustainable use and indigenous lands together contribute to a total of US $ 3 billion annually.
For this reason, Prof. Britaldo Soares-Filho points out that: “The standing forest is much more valuable than when chopped down, especially if we compare its benefits to the society as a whole to the value obtained when appropriated by the few.”
This study, however, quantifies only a small spectrum of environmental services. “We work with values that are measurable. There are environmental services of the Amazon Forest that we cannot monetize, such as those related to the genetic patrimony which is still unknown “, concludes Prof. Britaldo Soares-Filho. The authors also point out that the pricing of environmental services is essential to design strategies that combine protection with the sustainable use of the forest. In addition to the publication, the study is available on an interactive web platform amazones.info. Also participating in the article are researchers from the Federal University of Viçosa, Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro, and the State University of Rio de Janeiro.
In another article published in the same issue entitled “Traditional conservation strategies still the best option”, Britaldo Soares-Filho and Raoni Rajão point out that agribusiness must recognize that production depends on the vast forests and other native vegetation, which still cover about of 60% of the Brazilian territory. “Deforestation will have a negative effect on agricultural production and incomes. To promote deforestation is to kill the chicken of the gold eggs of the farming itself, “says Prof. Raoni Rajão from UFMG.
The results presented by the two studies published in Nature Sustainability directly counter the claims of Evaristo Miranda, an Embrapa researcher. In an article published in the state of São Paulo Miranda even suggests to the new president that the 83 million hectares still to be occupied in the Amazon need not be protected.