Balance: regeneration of the Amazon is greater where there is no dispute with agricultural areas, indicates unprecedented mapping

A área em área quatro vezes superior ao tamanho do Amazonas, a maior Unidade Federativa integrante do bioma, ou, ainda, cinquenta vezes a extensão do Estado do Acre. Desse total, 5,2 milhões de hectares, ou seja, 73% de toda a zona que se recupera das feridas deixadas pelo desmatamento, está em locais onde a floresta não precisa competir com o agronegócio - as chamadas áreas de baixa aptidão agrícola, onde o plantio de grãos é mais difícil.  

Iury Lima – from Cenarium Magazine

VILHENA (RO) – The Brazilian Legal Amazon has at least 7.2 million hectares of native forest in the process of forest recovery, an area four times the size of Amazonas, the largest Federative Unit integrating the biome, or even fifty times the extension of the State of Acre. Of this total, 5.2 million hectares, or 73% of the entire area that is recovering from the wounds left by deforestation, are in places where the forest does not have to compete with agribusiness – the so-called areas of low agricultural aptitude, where it is more difficult to plant grains.

The data are from an unprecedented mapping made by the Institute of Man and Environment of the Amazon (Imazon), in partnership with the Amazon 2030 project, and published this week. The study is a proof that environmental preservation and agricultural production can coexist in balance.


“We have already observed that the Amazon has, in a certain way, an ease in regenerating those areas that were opened and, later, somehow, ended up isolated or abandoned, not having a new conversion of that forest”, explained Imazon researcher and member of the study, Andréia Pinto to CENARIUM.

Despite the advance, the Amazon still has 2 million hectares in areas where agriculture offers risks, besides 800 thousand hectares that are still to advance in regeneration (Reproduction/Imazon)

Green economy

Paulo Amaral, who is also an Imazon researcher, clarifies that the areas of low agricultural aptitude are those that present very accentuated declines (declines) or slopes (hills), “generally on the margins of the hydrographic basins,” according to him. “These areas are very important for generating benefits to the rural producer, for the goals that Brazil has to meet, and for climate regulation”, he highlighted.

“The family farmer can use these areas in the restoration process to zero out environmental liabilities [environmental damages] in relation to the Permanent Preservation Areas (APPs). Besides, it is possible to use them for the production of non-timber goods, for agro-forestry systems, and incorporate them into the family farm income”, he also said.

Paulo Amaral highlights that environmental preservation generates an alternative and sustainable economy (Reproduction/ Cenarium Magazine)

In other words, recovering the forest on a large scale does not mean losing agricultural land, according to the mapping, since the rural producer can profit even more by keeping the forest standing. For this, all he has to do is be willing to obey the environmental laws in force.

“For the large producers, it is a great opportunity. In other words, those areas that were unduly deforested go into the recovery process and, with this, generate the environmental regularity of the rural property”, detailed the researcher.

In this sense, a great alternative would be the sale of native fruits, such as açaí and cupuaçu.

The vegetal extractivism would serve, according to the specialists, as an alternative source of income in rural properties (Valdemir Cunha/Greenpeace)

Lurking danger

On the other hand, Imazon also raises the alarm: the Amazon still has 2 million hectares of naturally regenerating forests located in zones considered to be easy to plant, which are those where environmental degradation can return, with the opening of crops and fields for cattle to graze.

Agriculture is allowed in 72% of them, equivalent to almost 1.5 million hectares. And most of these places are private lots, settlements, or undesignated public lands.

Agriculture is allowed in 72% of the areas with high agricultural potential under recovery in the Amazon (Reproduction/Imazon)

Despite the advance in regeneration, the deficit is still large. Around 800 thousand hectares need to advance in the recovery of the largest Brazilian biome. “So, we have to stop the deforestation of the primary forests, but also of those that are reviving. We need to protect them and favor their growth, because they bring the global climate benefit of removing CO2 (carbon dioxide) from the atmosphere”, warned researcher Andréia Pinto.

For Andréia Pinto, preserving the forest areas inside rural properties is to guarantee local and global climate benefits (Reproduction/ Revista Cenarium)

The climate (and the planet) thank(s) you

One of the great lessons of this study, as the researchers point out, is that it is possible to reconcile the supply of the great demand for the production of agro products and to supply the world’s granaries without continuing to kill the planet. So much so that the “maintenance of the area of natural regeneration helps the producer to pay off deficits and become regular before the law”.

In rural properties where APPs exist, for example, the benefits are much more noticeable, such as crops that are more resistant to extreme rain and wind and other natural adversities.

“Besides this local climatic importance, of protecting the properties, we have to consider that natural regeneration is the one that brings the greatest possibility and the lowest cost” reaffirmed researcher Andréia Pinto. “When agribusiness takes place in a country that meets its goals of reducing emissions, restoring native vegetation, or reforestation, this improves its image as a whole and also the local and international business environments,” she said.

The researcher evaluates that “while on one side” there is a very serious problem, configured by the deforestation of original forests, which results in the release of more greenhouse gases, “on the other side of the equation” is the possibility of, “by driving regeneration, allow it to persist. Thus, the goal of an ecologically balanced environment may become more attainable if this commitment is taken forward and the computed data taken as an example, according to Imazon’s conclusions.


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