Farming the Amazon for cows and carbon? Progressive farmers are setting aside forest for Carbon Credits now. Huge tracts of the Amazonian forest have already been cleared for cattle farming. Brazil has lost a lot of biodiversity for subsidized beef production, an area 3 times the size of Britain has been cleared and more is being destroyed as Brazil aims to become the World’s primary exporter of beef according to Amazonian Farming, a new short documentary film. Cattle farming threatens much of what remains of the Brazilian rainforest. While this farming promises useful export income for the nation, much of it useful for servicing foreign debt, it carries a heavy price of loss of habitat and biodiversity.
Now alongside the forest burning visible from space in satellite photographs, there’s a new glimmer of hope. Farmers who set aside areas of forest for preservation can receive money for Carbon Credit. In short, they are paid for growing the trees that capture atmospheric carbon.
The forest growth takes Carbon dioxide that is linked to harmful climate change out of the air in our atmosphere. Trees take in Carbon dioxide during the daytime and give out beneficial Oxygen throughout their lives, at night this process is reversed, but a lot of carbon is stored as trees grow and repair themselves.
Governments want to limit the amount of carbon that people put into the atmosphere because carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and is believed to be a cause of harmful climate change. Click here for a good list of things we can do to reduce our Carbon Footprints.
Governments ask companies to pay for the carbon that they give off in the course of their business activities to encourage them to put less carbon into the atmosphere.
The Governments then use this money from the companies to reward farmers for preserving the forest that takes the carbon out of the air.
A system that pays farmers who set aside tracts of forest for the Carbon Credit scheme, pays to preserve the forest that helps to maintain favourable climate conditions for life on Earth as we know it. Finally there’s some moolah in farming forest as well as cattle.
Thank goodness! We need to remember though, that fragmented and degraded forest habitat is not as rich in variety of forest species as large virginal tracts. The eminent American researcher and Pulitzer Prize-winning Author E.O. Wilson, who conducted seminal biodiversity studies in the Amazon has emphasized this important point in his book The Diversity of Life, the richness of biodiversity in Amazonian forest clearly correlates to the size of the tract, small isolated tracts are better than nothing and will trap more carbon than grass, but they are ecological ‘islands’ and support far less wildlife. They may be too small in themselves to support much wildlife at all and that which is preserved piecemeal can be expected to degrade when cut off from the larger life-support system with which it co-evolved. Amazonian forest doesn’t only influence regional and global climate, it generates localised humidity, rainfall and even Ph, many species that evolved in deep forest are unlikely to thrive or even survive in the centre of a small isolated tract, let alone on the forest edge. These creatures evolved over millions of years and once extinct they are not going to return from the dead to repopulate forest regenerated from isolated patches so coordinated efforts should be made to preserve large corridors of original forest.
Click here to view the films page of WildOpenEye.com and click on Amazon Farming, a short documentary film that explores the subject, produced by Andy Luck in the Wild Wonders series, copyright BBC Worldwide 2012