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Sir, - Further to the article "Europe is contributing to widespread deforestation in Brazil, say scientists" (News, April 26th), Brazil is firmly committed to reconciling agricultural production and environmental preservation, and that conciliation is not only desirable, but also fully achievable.

Regarding the use of Brazil's land, 66 per cent of the country is dedicated to the protection and preservation of native vegetation.

Agricultural production occupies 9 per cent of the territory; livestock, 20 per cent; and 13 per cent is allocated to indigenous lands.

Our country is one of the largest global players in food production; however, less than a third of our territory is used for such production, while two-thirds are dedicated to preserving the environment and our traditional peoples. Thus Brazil is one of the few countries with the capacity to produce, preserve and include at the same time.

In addition, it is necessary to highlight the development of technologies that increase productivity, intensify production and prevent the incorporation of new farming areas.

These technological advances allowed for a five-fold increase in grain production between 1977 and 2017, while the area occupied by crops remained practically stable.

This enabled Brazil to be one of the largest agricultural producers in the world, while allocating only 9 per cent of its territory to agriculture.

By way of comparison, the countries of the European Union use between 45 per cent and 65 per cent of their lands; the United States, 18.3 per cent; China, 17.7 per cent; and India, 60.5 per cent.

There are several agricultural policies in place in Brazil that promote the development of sustainable practices and the conservation of forests, such as the Forest Code, the Rural Environmental Registry, Agro-Climate Risk Zoning, the Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Deforestation and Forest Fires in the Amazon , the Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Deforestation and Forest Fires in the Cerrado, the National Policy on Climate Change, the Sectoral Plan for Mitigation and Adaptation to Climate Change for the Consolidation of a Low-Carbon Economy in Agriculture, the National Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change, among others - not to mention the private sector's environmental impact initiatives, such as the soy moratorium and the meat moratorium.

It is also relevant to note that, regarding the area known as the "Legal Amazon", the Brazilian forest code imposes on the national farmers the obligation to maintain 80 per cent of its area with forest or other native vegetation, at their own expense, without receiving any tax refund or pecuniary compensation for this.

This is one of the reasons why, in the 10 years between 2004 and 2014, deforestation in the Legal Amazon fell from 27.7 thousand km2 to 4.8 thousand km2, a significant reduction of 82 per cent.

Although there has been an increase in this rate since then (data for 2018 indicates deforestation of 7.9 thousand km2 in the region), the annual loss of the Amazon forest area has decreased by 72 per cent in the last 14 years.

It should be noted that between 2006 and 2016, 9.4 million hectares of vegetation in the Amazon region were regenerated and the area of planted forests in the national territory grew by two million hectares.

Finally, it is important to remember that Brazil boasts a population of nearly one million indigenous people, approximately 780,000 of whom live in their original areas.

They come from 305 ethnic groups and speak 274 different languages.

There are currently 606 delimited indigenous lands, of which 566 are traditionally occupied by their respective indigenous peoples; there are at present 50 indigenous reserves.

Demarcated lands allocated to indigenous peoples amount to 13 per cent of Brazil's national territory, the equivalent of the sum of the joint land masses of Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. In this context, one of the priorities of Brazil's government is to engage in direct dialogue with indigenous communities and to improve the relevant public policies.

Yours, 

ELIANA ZUGAIB

Ambassador of Brazil to Ireland
Embassy of Brazil, Harcourt Centre, Charlotte Way, Dublin 2.

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