Site icon Conservation news

Brazil fines 24 ethanol producers for illegal forest clearing

Brazil fines 24 ethanol producers for illegal forest clearing

Brazil fines 24 ethanol producers for illegal forest clearing
July 1, 2008

Brazil fined two dozen ethanol producers accused of illegal clearing the country’s endangered Mata Atlântica or Atlantic rainforest, reports The Associated Press.

The companies face 120 million reals (US$75 million) in fines for operating without licenses and planting sugarcane in illegally deforested areas, Environment Minister Carlos Minc said in a press conference. The firms will be required to restore 143,300 acres (58,000 hectares) of forest.

“We will not let companies that destroy the Atlantic rain forest have any peace,” Minc told reporters. “If these environmental crimes continue, they will provide ammunition for those who want to slap trade barriers on the export of Brazilian ethanol.”

The fines come shortly after a group of Brazilian ethanol firms signed the first deal to export sustainably-produced ethanol. The deal, announced last week, will send to Sweden 115 million liters of to meet to certain social and environmental standards. The Brazilian soy and beef industries have recently announced similar certification initiatives.

In recent months Brazilian authorities have cracked down on loggers, ranchers, farmers, and charcoal producers believed to be operating in violation of environmental laws. Last week agents seized 3,100 head of cattle found grazing on illegally deforested lands in the Amazon. Minc said the cattle would be auctioned to fund Fome Zero, the government’s food program for the poor. Earlier this year the government conducted operation “Arc of Fire” to stop illegal logging on the Amazon frontier.

The moves are part of an effort by Brazil to counter criticism over a recent jump in deforestation in the Amazon rainforest and neighboring ecosystems that analysts say is linked to rising commodity prices. Brazilian authorities note that while forest clearing has climbed over the past year, it is still considerably lower than the peak year of 2004 when more than 27,000 square kilometers of forest were lost. Further Brazilian ethanol is widely recognized as the most efficiently mass-produced biofuel on the market, yielding 5.5 times as much energy per unit of input compared with U.S. corn ethanol.

Brazil’s Mata Atlantica once blanked the coast of the country but hundreds of years of logging and agricultural expansion have reduced the ecosystem to about eight percent of its original extent. The forest is home to dozens of well-known endangered species, including the charismatic Golden Lion Tamarin.

This article is based on press materials from UNEP

Exit mobile version