Why Brazil Is Right to Auction Off the Amazon Rainforest

It sounds like a nightmarishly bad idea: Brazil is auctioning off big pieces of the Amazon ... to timber companies. But it's a move that could ultimately save the Amazon from destruction, according to Brazil's National Forestry Service.

Reuters reports that the Brazilian government is offering logging concessions for 2.47 million acres by the end of the year and 27 million acres in the next four to five years. That's about the same size as Virginia. For some perspective, Brazil currently only offers 370,000 acres to logging companies. So why the increase?

Right now, speculators often illegally occupy state land. These speculators log illegally (slash and burn practices have already destroyed 20% of the planet's rainforests), making lots of money for themselves, but little for the Brazilian government. By privatizing the land, the government hopes to promote sustainable logging — only as much as the rainforest can regenerate. And of course, Brazil also hopes to get some jobs and tax revenues out of the deal.

It's not a perfect solution. Legitimate corporations like Sinar Mas Group's Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) are often accused of unsustainable logging practices. But it's better than the alternative.

Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.

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  • Jess

    Scumbag loggers are ensuring their grandkids wont have air to breathe, but will have disposable furniture from Ikea, & Toilet Paper to wipe their A$$

  • Alan B.

    This story needs a fact checker. ASIA Pulp & Paper operates in Asia, not the Amazon. It's hardly legit either: dozens of companies have dropped its products and there isn't a single credible environmental group willing to partner with it. Even the FSC has dropped it for egregious violations of its policies.

  • Ariel Schwartz

    Alan, I was just giving an example of a large corporation that practices unsustainable logging--the kind of corporation that could potentially purchase land in the Amazon.