To protect South America's rain forests it is necessary to reduce clear-cutting, extend livestock pastures and impose stricter environmental legislation. This call is made by scientists in a study published in July 2012 and based on the example of Bolivia. The scientists take a critical stand on the impacts of the REDD programme.
Taking the example of Bolivia, scientists from Germany and Bolivia have now identified potential solutions to protect the tropical rain forest and published their findings in the online version of the journal „Land Use Policy“ in July 2012. They demand a reduction in clear cutting for pastureland and stricter environmental legislation.
In Bolivia, some 2 000 square kilometres of tropical forests are logged every year, corresponding to an annual deforestation rate of 0.5 per cent. Mechanised agriculture is responsible for the majority of the logging, followed by livestock husbandry and smallholder farming. The team of scientists examined the socioeconomic and spatial development of all three land-use forms and identified concrete measures to harmonise rainforest protection with economic interests.
The investigations demonstrated that a large number of forest areas in Bolivia are threatened by livestock raising, and that compared to other countries, the cattle density on the pastures in Bolivia and in other South American countries is far too low. Scientists therefore suggest raising a larger number of animals on the existing pastures and call for a control of the very wide-scale illegal deforestation. Pasture capacity could, for example, be improved by using improved grass varieties and introducing enhanced pasture management (pasture rotation). Silvo-pastoral systems, enriching pastures via trees, are also a potential solution.
The United Nations programme „Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD)“ is attempting to reduce deforestation. The head of the research project, Professor Gerhard Gerold of Göttingen University (Germany), criticised that many REDD projects address small farmers and indigenous peoples. In order to halt the destruction of tropical forests, however, it is necessary to control the large-scale deforestation.
Professor Gerold states that in order to protect rain forests it is especially necessary to imposed stricter environmental legislation, which then has to be strictly enforced by the responsible institutions. This holds true for Bolivia as it does for other tropical countries.