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Seminary presents scientific data on land use and demonstrates Brazilian leadership on the subject

Seminary presents scientific data on land use and demonstrates Brazilian leadership on the subject

The Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture promoted a scientific seminar on data regarding the dynamics of land use and cover on May 17th, 2018 in São Paulo. The meeting gathered around 200 people and had the participation of some of the best researchers and specialists in land use in Brazil.

Check out the video and the report with the main messages of the day!

Carlos Nobre, one of the idealizers of the seminar and member of the Brazilian Science Academy and Brazilian Coalition‘s Strategic Group stated, “Brazil has enormous technological and scientific capacities to deliver the best data on land use dynamics in the country. This data can be used across all sectors: the economic agribusiness sector, environmental, inspection, the Public Prosecution Office, everyone.”

The renowned researchers and specialists who participated in the debates [click here to see the full list of panelists] presented the main data sources on land use of the country, such as IBGE, INPE, Terraclass AmazôniaTerraclass CerradoLAPIG’s Information Set, MapbiomasAgrosatélite and PROBIO (Sustainable Conservation and Use of the Brazilian Biological Diversity Project). However, although there are diverse sources of information, wrongful interpretations on this data have been creating concern.

An opinion article, published in the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo stated that NASA has validated the IBGE’s data that considers that farming lands occupy about 8% of the Brazilian territory. However, the seminar clarified that the data source used in the article was not from NASA, but from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and that both the data from USGS and IBGE are insufficient to contemplate in this percentage all the pasturelands. Therefore, it is necessary to consider that the total area of the country used for farming is about 32% of the Brazilian territory, according to MapBiomas.

“There is a strong bias regarding the source and use of this data. This seminar is our gateway to start off discussions on good use of both land use and forest coverage data in Brazil,” stated Luana Maia, executive coordinator of the Brazilian Coalition.

According to Tasso Azevedo, coordinator of MapBiomas, the seminar made clearer the need to intensify production in areas already deforested. “We have between 30 and 40 million hectares of idle farming areas with extremely poor productivity,” stated Azevedo.

Communication, public policies and investment

Having quality data is essential to a transparent public debate and to guide decision-making in public or investment policies. Therefore, besides presenting more reliable scientific data, the seminar also promoted panels on communicating this information and its use by public managers and financial institutions.

Natália Mazotte, Open Knowledge Brazil’s executive-director and School of Data director, talked about the trouble journalists have to deal with different databases and the importance of those who generate scientific data to know how to make it available. Herton Escobar, reporter of the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, mentioned the challenge of making sure data arrives as clear information to society.

Brazilian Forest Service (SFB) general-director, Raimundo Deusdará, commented on using data from the scientific community towards public policies and presented some information systems as examples, such as SICAR (Rural Environmental Registry System) and SNIF (National Forest Information System).

According to Ana Toni, executive-director of the Climate and Society Institute, the panel that gathered financial institutions to discuss data on land use in risk evaluation and investment opportunities showed how important it is to create new incentives. “We have economic instruments to value and help the agriculture area, but the forest still lags behind. We need to boost reliable financial tools for the forest area,” concluded Toni.

Marcelo Furtado, Brazilian Coalition‘s former co-facilitator, stated, “The land use issue is the future of Brazil’s economy. But then, our economy needs to increase employment, generate income, tackle climate crisis and feed the country with high quality and welfare.”

André Guimarães, Brazilian Coalition‘s current co-facilitator, adds, “The good land use that will eventually determine this quality of life inherently depends upon a strategic planning that we are trying to advance through the Coalition‘s vision.” Guimarães referenced the Brazilian Coalition‘s challenge to build, in the upcoming months, a long-term vision for land use in the country that is capable of showing the world the potential Brazil has to produce food and, at the same time, assure forests environmental services. To build this vision, the Coalition will use data presented during the seminar.

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