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Tackling illegal deforestation in the Amazon

Carbon emissions from the destruction and degradation of forests are estimated to contribute about 20 per cent of all global greenhouse gas emissions. Every year the Amazon loses a forested area almost the size of Belgium. Much of the clearance is a result of illegal loggers felling mature trees and destroying forest habitats. This also has an adverse impact on the 30 million people who live in the Amazon region, many of whom rely on the forest for their livelihood.

The HSBC Climate Partnership and WWF worked with the Acre state government and Brazil's National Institute for Space Research to develop a methodology to measure the illegal logging. Acre is located in Brazil's Amazon interior, bordering Bolivia and Peru.

Many factors have affected environmental stability in the Amazon forest, and one of the United Nations priorities for 2050 is sustainable development in the Amazon. The partnership between HSBC and WWF contributes to this objective, transforming financial resources into a common good, supporting business, social development and the diversity of nature, communities and cultures

Sheila Pimentel,
President, Humanitare Institute

The pilot study used satellite imagery from the Institute to track the extent of deforestation. Data from the satellite pictures, showing the disturbance to the forest canopy and deforestation in a defined 12,000-hectare plot were compared with figures showing the actual volume of wood legitimately marketed from the same plot.

The model is designed to be used across the entire Amazon to produce an 'illegal logging index' that will be reported at regional and sub-regional levels. This will help local and federal governments take more effective preventative action. Using this technology to prevent the entry of illegal timber into the market also supports the legal logging businesses that strive for sustainable forest management and who show respect to the workers and communities within the forest.

About the HSBC Climate Partnership

The HSBC Climate Partnership was a five-year environmental programme between HSBC, The Climate Group, Earthwatch Institute, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and WWF. The programme, which ran until December 2011, helped reduce the impact of climate change on people, forests, freshwater and cities and accelerate the adoption of low-carbon policies.