FOREST SHOULD BE PROTECTED FROM DEFORESTATION
Deforestation is the conversion of forested areas to non-forested. Generally this removal or destruction of significant areas of forest cover has resulted in a degraded environment with reduced biodiversity. Deforestation greatly contributes to greenhouse gas accumulation in the atmosphere. Generally the growing worldwide demand for wood in construction, paper and furniture are the main cause of deforestation. Clearing land for commercial and industrial development including road construction is another cause of deforestation. If the current rate of deforestation continues, the world’s forests will vanish within 100 years.
Deforestation alters the hydrologic cycle, potentially increasing or decreasing the amount of water in the soil and groundwater and the moisture in the atmosphere. Nearly half of the estimated 52 billion tons of carbon stored in the Earth’s biomass is found in tropical forests. Deforestation contributes around 25% of global greenhouse emissions through the rotting and burning of vegetation CO2 has increased in the atmosphere 30% in the last 250 years mostly due to deforestation and forest fires3 Forest and land-use measures have the potential to reduce net carbon emissions by the equivalent of 10-20% of projected fossil fuel emissions through 2050. Deforestation can lead to:
– Soil erosion.
– Flash flooding.
– Alteration in forest biodiversity.
– Increased temperatures (estimated to reach 130° during the day).
2. PART A: Laws and the Environment
The ineffectiveness of laws alone to protect the environment is nowhere as evident as in the contemporary destruction of the Amazonian rain and moist forests. Since 1975 the rate of deforestation has steadily accelerated with a four-fold increase to 125,000 square kilometers by 1980 and twenty-fold to 600,000 square kilometers by 1988. There is reason to be concerned with this scale of destruction. Not only does forest cutting and burning release earth-warming gases, but the diversity of the earth’s species may be destroyed. The Amazon contains 26.5 percent of the planet’s moist forests, estimated to contain 50 percent of the entire world’s species. The blame for deforestation has been assigned to very different actors. A number of analysts and government officials have been quick to blame the poor, small-scale farmers for most of the deforestation.
a) Constitutional Law and the Environment:
The Constitution guarantees all its citizens a healthy and stable environment. However, the federal government is limited by the Constitution to formulating only general norms, delegating to the states and counties the specification of those norms. It is only with the new Constitution of 1988 that the federal government “obligates” states and counties to carry out environmental impact assessment as a tool of environmental monitoring. However, fertilizer companies have fought efforts made by the legislatures of the southernmost states of Brazil to control the use of fertilizers in their respective regions as “unconstitutional.” Few states have implemented specific enough environmental policies to be workable. Because the bulk of the state and municipal taxes are not collected and used locally, but go to the federal coffers first, and then a small proportion is returned to state and local government, little incentive has been put into effective tax policies that benefit the local environment.
Under Article 26 of the 1988 Constitution, destruction of the forests became a crime under the penal code.This new constitutional provision has been rarely enforced and is based upon similar codes in France where it has been applied more successfully. Other general norms have been passed that provide protection to the fauna, the soil, the air, the water, the fisheries, and natural resources. The states have their own constitutions, derived from the federal one, which have attempted to elaborate on their obligations towards environmental protection. While well meaning, only one of the states made any effort to specify how they would create a fund to pay for the cost of protecting their environment. Without such practical steps, and given the precarious nature of most states’ budgets, it is unlikely that enforcement by state or municipal authorities will occur. Other important obstacles to the protection of the environment in Brazil derive from archaic notions of the rights of owners of private property. Intervention of public authorities in what goes on inside a legally titled property is opposed by the elites who control very large properties, and by others who aspire to someday have them. Even though the Constitution links the right to private property to its “social function,” this linkage has remained vague in legal terms and unapplied to destruction of vast areas within the private domain of individuals or corporations.
b) The Issue of National rule:
One of the most complex wrinkles in the landscape of international environmental protection is the one presented by the concern with national control felt by a number of countries. Every country is particularly sensitive to this issue. To understand this hypersensitivity it is necessary to recall how Countries expanded from its Northeastern hump, given to Portugal in 1493 through the Treaty of Tordesillas. As can be expected, one of the most persistent themes in these gathering has been to blame the developed countries for their exploitation of Forest resources, while preaching of the value of conservation to the Amazonian countries. This is important because multinationals appear to behave in contradiction to the actions of the states wherein they have their corporate headquarters. In recent gatherings of representatives of the various bar associations from Latin America, a common theme was to introduce environmental law into the curriculum of the law schools, and the formulation of laws which have real penalties in a court of law for environmental transgressions.
c) The Environment and local People
One of the notable changes in international attitudes towards environment is clear, from the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. In that document, the rights of indigenous people to their lands was conceded and connected to their stewardship of nature. The United Nations General Assembly declared 1993 the International Year of the World’s Indigenous People. The process of deforestation had numerous social effects for the population of the world. The indigenous people that lived in the rainforest were the hardest hit, so naturally when examining the social effects of deforestation, much of the analysis will focus on the indigenous population. It is equally important to note that besides the indigenous population, there were also reverie agriculturalists and backwoods agriculturalists, hunters, and extractivists that lived in the rainforests. The information presented here comes from case study reports in the regions of Rondonia and Para.
.The third group were the hunters, backwoods agriculturalists, and extractivists. Extractivists collected rubber, nuts and other forest product to sell.All three groups and in particular the indigenous pollution suffered greatly from the process of deforestation. Case studies documented in detail how outside people invaded the indigenous population reserves and how various devices deprived the indigenous people of their traditional lands and forest. Consequently, the indigenous population suffered greatly from mercury poisoning because fish was the primary source of protein for them. Cattle ranchers, loggers and land speculators also invaded the indigenous lands. Many forests, especially those near navigable steams were cleared.
3. PART B: Climate changes that happen as a result of Deforestation
When an area of rainforest is either cut down or destroyed, there are various climate changes that happen as a result. The following is a list of the various climate changes with a brief description of why they come about.
a) Dramatic Increase in Temperature Extremes
Trees provide shade and the shaded area has a moderated temperature. With shade, the temperature may be 98 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 60 degrees at night. Without the shade, temperatures would be much colder during the night and around 130 degrees during the day. Moisture from the oceans fall as rain on adjacent coastal regions. The moisture is soon sent up to the atmosphere through the transpiration of foliage to fall again on inland forest areas. This cycle repeats several times to rain on all forest regions.
b) Moist Humid Region Changes to Desert
This is related to the desicaiton of previously moist forest soil. Primarily because of the lack of moisture and the inability to keep moisture, soil that is exposed to the sun will dry and turn into desert sand. Even before that happens, when the soil becomes dry, dust storms become more frequent. At that point, the soil becomes usesless. Recently, groups challenged those conclusions. Some scientists claim that the conclusion were based on insufficient data. Nevertheless, desertification still threatens more and more drylands.
c) Less Carbon Dioxide and Nitrogen Exchange
The rainforests are important in the carbon dioxide exchange process. They are second only to oceans as the most important “sink” for atmospheric carbon dioxide. The most recent survey on deforestaiton and greenhouse gas emisions reports that deforestation may account for as much as 10% of current greenhouse gas emmisions. Greenhouse gases are gases in the atmosphere that literally trap heat. There is a theory that as more greenhouse gasses are released into the atmosphere, more heat gets trapped. Thus, there is a global warming trend in which the average temperature becomes progressivily higher. The relationship between deforestation and soil ersion.
It is impossible to overstate the importance of humankind’s clearing of the forests. The transformation of forested lands by human actions represents one of the great forces in global environmental change and one of the great drivers of biodiversity loss. The impact of people has been and continues to be profound. Forests are cleared, degraded and fragmented by timber harvest, conversion to agriculture, road-building, human-caused fire, and in myriad other ways. The effort to use and subdue the forest has been a constant theme in the transformation of the earth, in many societies, in many lands, and at most times. The question before those concerned with the implementation of global laws to protect the environment is what kind of international legal, political, and economic actions could lead to more effective protection of the richest realm of nature
1. Dennis J. Mahar, Government Policies and Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon Region (1989).
2. William Booth, Monitoring the Fate of the Forests from Space, 243 Science 1428, 1429 (1989); Alberto W. Setzer & Marcos C. Pereira, Amazonian Biomass Burnings in 1987 and an Estimate of their Tropospheric Emissions, Ambio, Feb. 1991, at 19.
3. Key Environments: Amazonia, (Ghillean T. Prance & Thomas E. Lovejoy eds., 1985); C.S. Silver, One Earth, One Future: Our Changing Global Environment (1990).
4. Cf. Norman Myers, Tropical Forests: Present Status and Future Outlook, Climatic Change, Sept. 1991, at 3, 17-18.
5. The Future of Amazonia: Destruction or Sustainable Development 1-18 (David Goodman & Anthony Hall eds., 1990); Susanna Hecht, Cattle Raising in the Eastern Amazon: Environment and Soil Implications, in The Dilemma of Amazonian Development (Emilio F. Moran ed., 1983); D. Mahar, Government Policies and Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon Region (1989); Emilio F. Moran, Deforestation in the Brazilain Amazon 8-10 (Indiana Center on Global Change and World Peace ed., 1992).
6. Mahar, supra note 1, at 15.
7. Hans P. Binswanger, Brazilian Policies that Encourage Deforestation in the Amazon, 19 World Dev. 821, 823 (1991). Return to text
8. Booth, supra note 2, at 1428.
9. Susanna B. Hecht, The Logic of Livestock and Deforestation in Amazonia, 43 Bioscience 687, 689-92 (1993).
10. Susanna Hecht et al., The Economics of Cattle Ranching in Eastern Amazonia, 13 Interciencia 233-40 (1988).
11. Constituio da Repblica Federativa do Brasil; Direito Ambiental E A Questo Amaznica 4 (Maria C. Dourado ed., 1991).
12. generally Fernando Uricoechea, The Patrimonial Foundations of the Brazilian Bureaucratic State (1980).
13. R. Faoro, Os Donos do Poder: Formao do Patronato Poltico Brasiliero (1958); Victor Nunes Leal, Coronelismo, Enxada e Voto 147-49 (1949).
14. Constituio da Repblica Federativa do Brasil art. 26 (Brazil).
15. Generally Direito Ambiental E A Questo Amaznica, supra note 12.
16. Global Environmental Change: Understanding the Human Dimensions 68-71 (Paul C. Stern et al. eds., 1992).
17. For an illustration of the expansion of Brazil and the treaties which caused the expansion, see Lewis A. Tambs, Geopolitics of the Amazon, in Man in the Amazon 45, 60 (Charles Wagley ed., 1974).
18. Generally Barbara Weinstein, The Amazon Rubber Boom 1850-1920 (1983).
19. Golbery do Couto e Silva, Aspectos Geopolticos do Brasil (1957).
20. A. M. Mattos, O Intersse Nacional e os Interesses Internacionais na Amazonia Brasileira, in Amaznia: Desenvolvimento ou Retrocesso 126 (J. M. Monteiro da Costa ed., 1992).
21. Carlos Everaldo Coimba, From Shifting Cultivation to Coffee Farming: The Impact of Change on the Health and Ecology of the Surui Indians in the Brazilain Amazon 159 (1989) (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Indiana University).
22. O Indio Perante O Direito: Ensaios 12 (S. Coelho Santos ed., 1982). Return to text
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 Clearing land for commercial and industrial development including road construction
 Forests act as a sink for carbon which reduces the greenhouse effect and global warming
 See, Dennis J. Mahar, Government Policies and Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon Region (1989)
 See, William Booth, Monitoring the Fate of the Forests from Space, 243 Science 1428, 1429 (1989); Alberto W. Setzer & Marcos C. Pereira, Amazonian Biomass Burnings in 1987 and an Estimate of their Tropospheric Emissions, Ambio, Feb. 1991.
 In the Brazilian Amazon, and most of Latin America, the bulk of the deforestation is a result of fiscal incentives and tax holidays given to cattle ranches.
 See, Constituio da Repblica Federativa do Brasil; Direito Ambiental E A Questo Amaznica 4 (Maria C. Dourado ed., 1991).
 It is only with the new Constitution of 1988 that the federal government “obligates” states and counties to carry out environmental impact assessment as a tool of environmental monitoring.
 Cf. Norman Myers, Tropical Forests: Present Status and Future Outlook, Climatic Change, Sept. 1991, at 3, 17-18.
 This failure to take into account the budgetary consequences of legislation or constitutional law has been a persistent problem in Latin American history which accounts for the mismatch between the intentions of the law and its implementation.
 Note that the most recent treaties took place during the Rubber Boom Era (1880-1920) when Brazil was particularly successful in mobilizing its population to exploit wild rubber stands deep in the Amazon interior.
 By 1750 Brazil more than doubled its territory through the Treaty of Madrid which acknowledged the Portuguese occupation of what is today the bulk of Brazil’s territory. A number of later treaties further expanded Brazilian territory most of the time by their de facto occupation of a region, rather than by any legal claims to it.
 See, Golbery do Couto e Silva, Aspectos Geopolticos do Brasil (1957). P-113
 economic processes using standards mandated in the First World, or use the lower standards allowed, or overlooked by lax local enforcement in Third World countries
 As currently written, environmental laws in Latin America tend to be very general and philosophic and difficult to enforce.
 Chapter 26 of Agenda 21 foresees the need to support financially and legally the capacity of indigenous people to protect their territories from socially and environmentally unsound practices, and to use sustainably their lands. The declarations from Agenda 21 are very general, and will need to be specified for each place and each indigenous population. Some indigenous people represent populations in the tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands, while others may have recently experienced devastating epidemics and represent only a few hundred individuals. For example, the Surui Indians in Rondonia experienced a loss of seventy-five percent of their population in one decade. Their low point, reached in 1978 was 322.
 The riverine agriculturalists, mostly Portuguese-speaking settlers, occupied the varzeas, the fertile flood plains, for permanent agriculture. This was possible because soil fertility was renewed annually during flooding. In 1990, the flood plains made up about 5 per cent of the Amazon’s areas and the flood plains included over half of all the land suitable for permanent agriculture. Their lifestyles were similar to the indigenous population, but unlike the indigenous population, they sold some crops, fish, jute, and the like to local traders
 . They used the money to buy necessities, such as tools, guns, and a few staples. Most of the people in this group, like the indigenous people practiced long fallow shifting agriculture and keep a few animals
 Gold prospectors brought diseases that soon wipe out most of the indigenous population. The mercury gold prospectors used to separate gold from sand polluted drinking water and fish.
 This affected fish reproductions, since most fish species depended on forest sources. Water reserves, hydrologic regime, soils and local climates, and agricultural productivity were also affected.
 The Future of Amazonia: Destruction or Sustainable Development 1-18 (David Goodman & Anthony Hall eds., 1990); Susanna Hecht, Cattle Raising in the Eastern
 According to the United Nations Environmental Programmed (UNEP) in 1977, deforestation is an important factor contributing to desertification. What is unclear is how fast deserts are expanding is controversial. According to UNEP, between 1958 and 1975, the Saharan Desert expanded southward by about 100km. In 1980 UNEP estimated that desertification threatened 35 per cent of the world’s land surface and 20 per cent of the world’s population.
 See, Hans P. Binswanger, Brazilian Policies that Encourage Deforestation in the Amazon, 19 World Dev. 821, 823 (1991).
 See, Golbery do Couto e Silva, Aspectos Geopolticos do Brasil (1957). Return to text
A. M. Mattos, O Intersse Nacional e os Interesses Internacionais na Amazonia Brasileira, in Amaznia: Desenvolvimento ou Retrocesso 126 (J. M. Monteiro da Costa ed., 1992).
 See, (1989) (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Indiana University). Return to text
O Indio Perante O Direito: Ensaios 12 (S. Coelho Santos ed., 1982
 Deforestation is known to contribute to run-off of rainfall and intensified soil erosion. The seriousness of the problem depends much on soil
characteristics and topography