Brazil halves environment budget amid rising Amazon deforestation | Climate Home – climate change news

GR: Of today’s 12 lead stories in my climate newsletter, The Atmosphere News, 3 stories were either optimistic or neutral and 9 were pessimistic or bad. The ‘bad’ story below is worth noting because of the years of back-and-forth over Amazon rainforest protection. I think it illustrates what happens to nature when human problems arise. Nature may “bat last,” but it gets that last-word only after a long string of strikeouts.

Environmental budget cuts come as pressure to convert the rainforest into pasture is intensifying (Photo: Neil Palmer/CIAT)

In a bid to contain a growing budget deficit, the government has slashed the funding to enforce forest protection laws

“The Brazilian government is cutting its environment ministry budget by 51% as part of a bid to limit the country’s spiralling deficit.

“The cuts come as deforestation rates are rising, driven by demand for timber, soy and beef. The Amazon region saw a 29% increase in forest clearance last year, according to preliminary data from Brazil’s National Space Research Institute.

“It is an even steeper drop in spending than the 31% Donald Trump’s administration is proposing for the US Environmental Protection Agency.

“The environment ministry oversees the agency responsible for enforcing laws to protect the forest. Sharp spending cuts risk weakening its capacity to carry out inspections, warned NGO Observatorio do Clima.

“Other ministries hit by the austerity drive include transport, tourism and planning, budget and management. Certain programmes have been protected under the government’s “growth acceleration programme”.

“The move comes among reports that Brazilian government environment and land policy is being swayed by a dominant pro-beef caucus.” –Megan Darby (Continue: Brazil halves environment budget amid rising Amazon deforestation | Climate Home – climate change news.)

Benefits of Removing Livestock from Rangelands to Sequester Carbon

f623b855-d229-4a32-abb2-770f8b14a604George Wuerthner:  “Rangelands make up a large proportion of the Earth’s surface, and the soils hold a significant amount of sequestered carbon. Rangelands are estimated to contain more than one-third of the world’s above and below ground carbon reserves.[i] As a consequence, there is interest in determining the potential for soil carbon sequestration in rangeland soils, and whether livestock grazing helps or hinders this sequestration.

“Given the existing condition of many rangelands, the biggest concern is maintaining current carbon, and avoiding losses through soil erosion, degradation of plant productivity and other changes that lead to soil carbon losses. In other words, the best way to reduce CO2 emissions from rangelands globally is to reduce rangeland degradation. Since livestock grazing is frequently the major source of rangeland degradation, a reduction in grazing pressure, can in many ecosystems, potentially preserve more soil carbon”  Source: www.thewildlifenews.com.

GR:  Excellent article.  Cites evidence showing that livestock grazing reduces soil CO2.  Moreover, domestic grazers remove plants that wildlife need, and they damage soil microorganisms that enrich and stabilize the soil and help block weed invasions.

PEER – BLM Grazing Reform

GR:  PEER’s interactive maps give you BLM’s land health assessment, and let you zoom in to see actual conditions on the ground.

In 2012, BLM respond to a PEER statement that grazing allotment health was not accurately reported (http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/grazing.html). The BLM did not explain why many allotments described as healthy have large areas that have been overgrazed and trampled excessively.

A highly degraded allotment in OR that BLM records as "All Standards Met" (Photo from PEER.org.

A highly degraded allotment in OR that BLM records as “All Standards Met” (Photo from PEER.org).

Using the Peer maps, citizen naturalists can visit nearby BLM grazing allotments and perform their own assessment.  Weeds, trampled shrubs, barren trails, and more are visual testaments to excessive cattle use.  Once problems are reported, BLM will make necessary corrections.

Thanks to Ralph Maughan of The Wildlife News for spotting the PEER maps.

The following is from PEER.org.

“On more than 250 million acres of public lands in the American West, grazing by domestic livestock constitutes by far the most widespread human-caused impact on fundamental range conditions, including habitat quality, riparian functioning, and endangered species. More extensive than the impacts of logging and mining combined, commercial livestock grazing exacts an enormous toll on native ecosystems and wildlife throughout the American West. It is a contributing factor to the endangerment of 22 percent of all federally listed threatened and endangered species, and a major contributor to non-point source water pollution and desertification.

“The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the nation’s largest public lands-managing agency and administrator of grazing permits, is required to monitor the ecological impacts of grazing on its lands. BLM conducts evaluations of whether its grazing allotments meet “Land Health Standards” (LHS), but until now the results of these evaluations have been largely inaccessible to those outside the agency and their results have escaped independent review.”

Source: www.peer.org