• Away from blogging

    trees

    In the next three weeks I’ll be taking a break from blogging. Thank you to those, who visited this site in the last few months, and see you in September with (hopefully) a fresh, renewed look on things.

    Leave a comment

    • Can policies slow down deforestation?

      37707026braz_20010627_17060.jpg

      Disentangling the effect of specific large scale policies from other changing parameters of the environment, including things such as prices in directly or indirectly related markets or behavior of economic agents, is a challenging task. Since the mid-2000s, the deforestation rate in the Brazilian Amazon has plummeted and this declining trend is showing no sign of reversal yet, as shown in this Nature News entry:

      The numbers just keep going down: deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has fallen 23% over the past year, according to an initial — and highly uncertain — analysis released Thursday by the Brazilian government.
      Although the preliminary figures are based on coarse satellite data that are also subject to huge variability owing to cloud cover, they serve as an initial indicator that deforestation is likely to hit a fourth consecutive record low in the season that ran from August 2011 through July 2012. The latest official figures, released in December, show deforestation dropping to 6,238 square kilometres last year.
      (…)
      Just as a thought experiment: if these numbers were to hold up, it would represent a 75% drop below Brazil’s official baseline of 19,500 square kilometres annually (the average from 1996–2005).

      A recent paper by Assunção, Gandour and Rocha, precisely tries to determine the share of the reduction in deforestation attributable to the policies enacted since 2005.

      The main issue is to factor in the effect of fluctuations in agricultural prices. For example, I have witnessed on several occasion in the past few years in Paraguay the fact that rising soybean prices generate strong incentives to clear idle forested land for cultivation. The higher the price, the more incentives are generated to go for one time gains by planting even on intermediate quality or smaller parcels, which at the margin is likely to increase deforestation. Once these price effects are taken into account, the paper finds that new policies (these included “the strengthening of command and control strategies; the extensive expansion of protected territory; and the adoption of conditional credit policies”) accounted for about half of the observed reduction.


      Deforestation and biomass decay have accounted for approximately 17% of global greenhouse gas emissions (IPCC, 2007). This raises concerns about the extent of forest clearings in the Amazon, the planet’s largest rainforest tract. The region has long been the world’s most active agricultural frontier in terms of forest loss and CO2 emissions. In Brazil, the conversion of forest areas in the Amazon biome has contributed nearly half of the country’s total net CO2 emissions (MCT, 2010).
      Identifying whether the deforestation slow-down was due to economic circumstances or resulted from conservation policies introduced during that period could provide critical input for policymakers in Brazil and in other countries. We assess the contribution of Brazil’s policies to decreased deforestation rates by using regression techniques to disentangle the impacts of the policies from those of other potential explanatory factors, such as agricultural price cycles and other possible drivers of deforestation.
      Yet, the deforestation rate in the Brazilian Amazon experienced a substantial decrease during the second half of the 2000s, from a peak of 27,000 km2 in 2004 to 7,000 km2 in 2009. Two alternative explanations for this stand out. On the one hand, falling agricultural prices may have inhibited the clearing of forest areas for the expansion of farmland. On the other hand, conservation policies introduced after two policy turning points in 2004 and 2008 may have contributed to the curbing of deforestation. Indeed, Figure 1 shows that the adoption of policies following these turning points coincide with sharp subsequent decreases in the deforestation rate.
      Our analysis shows that approximately half of the deforestation that was avoided in the Amazon in the 2005 through 2009 period can be attributed to conservation policies introduced in the second half of the 2000s.

      Leave a comment

      • Fatiga paraguaya

        STS41B-42-2483 Paraná River, Argentina and Paraguay February 1984
The effects of the rainy season in south-central South America are vividly documented in this near-vertical photograph of the confluence of the Paraná and Paraguay Rivers northeast of the Argentine town of Corrientes. The Paraná River flows westward; after merging with the Paraguay River, it begins to flow almost due south. Both rivers are sediment laden and appear to be out of their normal watercourses, thereby producing flooding conditions. The Paraguay River is characterized by the widely varying, meandering main channel; many oxbow lakes; and a tan sediment load. The Paraná River has a smaller floodplain, a deeper channel, and a reddish-brown sediment load. As the two rivers merge and begin to flow southwestward, their individual sediment patterns do not mix readily, a common occurrence in which rivers with different densities of suspended particles tend to retain their individual color characteristics for many miles downstream. The Paraná River, which flows approximately 2000 miles (3200 kilometers), is the second largest drainage system in South America; the Amazon River is the largest. An old river channel south of the Paraná River parallels the present river channel. This much older stream channel seems to flow toward the city of Corrientes (estimated population of 200 000), the commercial center for this rich agricultural region of northeast Argentina and southwest Paraguay.

        Ha ocurrido. Estoy atravesando un agujero de aire mental que absorbe todo lo que tiene que ver con los asuntos paraguayos. Después de muchos años siguiendo día a día, desde la lejanía, los noticias de este país remoto. Después de cuatro años durante los cuales por primera vez tuve la esperanza que algo cambie, estuve escrudiñando le evolución de los hechos, a través de los contactos, de las discusiones, de las visitas anuales.

        Vino el golpe de junio 2012, que a pesar que muchos así no lo quieran nombrar, pasará a la historia como tal. Tres semanas más tarde, estoy en Asunción, luego en Juan E.O’Leary, Alto Paraná. Me golpea la súbita polarización de los espíritus, como si todo el conservadurismo latente, toda el miedo histérico creado durante la dictadura de Stroessner para matar la mínima idea de cambio, habían resurgido intactos. Y me golpea la pasividad, la indiferencia ciudadana frente a este nuevo saqueo perpetrado por un congreso que avanza sin mascara. Es cierto, hubo una que otra manifestación, unos escraches a políticos, redes sociales en donde se expresan sentimientos de vergüenza y de cólera. Esto es nuevo, pero cada vez los participantes se cuentan apenas en decenas.

        Quedará un balance, unos hechos innegables, unos logros en medio de muchos fracasos, para un gobierno que quizá quedará solo como un paréntesis. Programas sociales, transferencia a hogares pobres extendidas de 5 a más de 100 mil familias, arranque del programa de pensiones para adultos mayores pobres (en un país donde cabe recordar que mientras que la inmensa mayoría de la población no se beneficia con una pensión, los maestros se jubilan con 25 años de servicio), gratuidad de la salud. Y todo lo fallido, principalmente por el bloqueo del congreso, reforma agraria, ausencia de impuestos a la renta personal y al agro para financiar obras sociales, innumerables obras físicas paradas por falta de aprobación de créditos…

        Pasado el estupor, la indignación, me puse de nuevo a seguir el desarrollo de los hechos, esperando que estos me hagan mentir. Pero no fueron más de tres o cuatro semanas para que el mediocre juego político de siempre vuelva en toda su descaradez. Seguir noticias paraguayas en estos días provoca nausea. El país es nuevamente un botín para políticos apresurados. Negociaciones en torno a cargos, tratamiento de temas claves para la vida diaria de los ciudadanos postergado para ocuparse de la atribución de pensiones graciables, proposiciones sin fundamentos técnicos, declaraciones delirantes de líderes políticos, retrocesos acelerados cumplidos en la indiferencia general. El sitio internet de la presidencia de la república se ha convertido en un grotesco álbum de fotos del presidente facticio. Para muchos, el rechazo del extranjero, del izquierdista, del sin tierra, del que piensa diferente, es una nueva marca de orgullo nacional.

        Entonces, paulatinamente, se hace menos intensa la preocupación, se espacia la atención. De nuevo se ha apoderado de mí esta sensación que nada nuevo puede ocurrir aquí. Que cuando abra el diario de mañana, aún tendré la impresión de leer la edición de 1998. Que este país rodeado de tierra está condenado eternamente a sufrir a manos de estos pocos que se adueñaron de su destino décadas atrás. Ya sé, es fatiga paraguaya, kaigué insuperable. Debería animarme la razón, el espíritu racional de mi disciplina que analiza los hechos, busca las explicaciones y intenta detectar los movimientos telúricos de la sociedad. Debería descansar en el optimismo que me había llevado a creer que en algún momento los cambios acumulados, de mentalidad, de políticas, serían suficientes para provocar la báscula en un futuro diferente, que imposibilitaría toda vuelta atrás. Pero hoy no tengo este optimismo. Trataré de mantener viva esta llama pequeña, y esperaré que vuelva a crecer. Y buscaré motivos de pensar que grandes cambios a veces vienen disfrazados. Será un acto de fe.

        1 Comment

  • last posts

  • Archives

  • Frontières

  • links

  • Paraguay


  •  

    © Design graphique et développement : www.mrcam.fr