Sir Richard Branson has blogged about deforestation and the Amazon rainforest following his recent visit to Brazil.

“One of the great wonders of Brazil is the Amazon rainforest, which, as well as being home to astonishing biodiversity, soaks up huge amounts of carbon dioxide every day,” he wrote. "The world’s biggest rainforest is also one of our biggest assets in reducing the impact of climate change.

I was hoping to tell a good news story – we all need more good news – about Brazil’s excellent progress on reducing deforestation rates. Between 2005 and 2010, Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions dropped by a huge 39 per cent – faster than any other country on earth. The reason? Brazil’s deforestation rate declined by more than three quarters during that period.

“However, new figures from Brazil’s SAD monitoring system have revealed the encouraging trend is now reversing. There was a slight increase in deforestation in 2013, before the rate more than doubled in the past six months.

“Meanwhile, the Amazon rainforest is becoming less efficient at soaking up greenhouse gases from the air. A study from the University of Leeds found that net carbon uptake of the rainforest has dropped by 30 per cent. The Amazon absorbed a net amount of two billion tonnes a year in the 1990s – this figure decreased to 1.4 billion in the 2000s.

“It is up to all of us to highlight and support the conservation of this most remarkable of rainforests in this most incredible of countries.”


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