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Deforestation in Berau, Kalimantan, Indonesia Photo: Mahastra Wibisono, Newsweek
A new study published yesterday in the journal Science Advances found that in Indonesia, a country with bountiful but highly exploited natural resources, a national anti-poverty program also reduced deforestation as a side benefit. The program uses conditional cash transfers (CCTs) to elevate families over the poverty line, an increasingly popular way to provide assistance, conditional on taking specific actions related to education and health. As a result, families did not need to resort to clearing forests to make ends meet or grow more food during difficult times. The researchers compared satellite images of areas where the government made CCTs to those where they did not and found a distinct increase in forest cover in those with cash assistance.
When compared to the costs of climate change, the Indonesia program’s benefit of keeping Indonesian rain forests intact more than justifies it. One of the study authors argued in Science News that the economic benefits of saving the forests “justify the intervention.” It also demonstrates that a healthy environment and strong economy are not at odds with one another — it is possible to have both. One of the authors told Newsweek, “For decades, people have been debating whether alleviating poverty and protecting the environment are at odds with each other. Resolving this debate is important because lots of poor people are found in the same areas where we find the most endangered ecosystems, like the rainforest.”
Humans need forests for our survival, from the air we breathe to the wood we use. These ecosystems also provide livelihoods for people, offer watershed protection, prevent soil erosion, and mitigate climate change. Unfortunately, a new report from World Wildlife Fund (WWF) titled “Deforestation Fronts: Drivers and Responses in a Changing World” reveals that more […]
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s most recent effort to reduce the destruction of the Amazon rainforest has failed, The Washington Post reports. Bolsonaro’s plan to deploy military troops and take illegal mining operations by surprise ultimately failed when miners got wind of it.
Why This Matters: The health of the Amazon rainforest is crucial in the fight against climate change.
This year will be remembered for literally turning the sky red — wildfires in California were so severe that they cast a red pall across large areas of the state — and the photos were the most vivid sign yet that climate change is not some future apocalypse, but is already upon us.
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