Today we are cross-posting a blog by Daniel Jensen of Mercy Corps’ Global Envision, focusing on our partnership with Mercy Corps and USAID. Here it is:
In Para, Brazil, farmers are turning a profit and the government is on track to slow deforestation thanks to local nonprofit Imazon, which got them to work together.
By 2003, Brazil was on the verge of an environmental catastrophe. As its economy expanded, cattle ranchers needed more land to graze their livestock, and few laws prevented them from burning down thousands of square kilometers of untitled land in the Amazon, causing vast environmental damage. In the worst regions, like Para, widespread poverty meant that stopping deforestation was at the bottom of the government’s list, despite massive efforts by groups like Greenpeace and Imazon.
A wave of environmental laws passed by the federal government from 2004 to 2008 seemed to complicate things for local governments and economies, even as deforestation rates fell. Many municipal governments couldn’t fully meet government targets under the new regulations but faced economic sanctions if they didn’t. A beef embargo prevented farmers from selling their meat to mainstream supermarket chains like Carrefour and Walmart if their municipality ended up on a blacklist for failing to reduce illegal deforestation to government-mandated levels. The government confiscated herds and sawmills from the law’s offenders. When Paragominas, a municipality in Para where Imazon worked, was placed on the list, 2,300 jobs and all the municipality’s federal agricultural credits disappeared within a year. read more