ASB partners in Brazil focus their research efforts in the western Brazilian states of Acre and Rondônia. Rondônia is densely populated with almost 25% (6 million hectares) of its forests destroyed in the past 20 years. The state has 6 million heads of cattle and is the third and fourth-largest cocoa and coffee-producing state in Brazil, respectively. The main ASB benchmark site in Rondônia is at Theobroma, where deforestation is still on-going.
In contrast to Rondônia, Acre has relatively low population density. Deforestation rates are lower (less than 10% in the past 20 years) and the tradition of using forests for extractive purposes is far greater (11% of land in Acre, versus 1% in Rondônia). Roughly 80% (1.2 million hectares) of the state's cleared land is pasture, with about 1 million head of cattle. Pedro Peixoto, with a lower level of deforestation than Theobroma, is the ASB benchmark site.
View ASB Benchmark sites in Brazil in a larger map
Deforestation in Brazil reached one of its highest levels in 2001. In 2003, ASB carried out a number of visits to former research sites in Brazil to discuss ways in which ASB could contribute to the deforestation issue. Four sets of issues were covered:
• Driving forces of land-use and land-cover change
• Human well-being, sustainable livelihoods and poverty reduction
• Environmental services, conditions and trends
• Reponses and scenarios
Can intensifying land use within forest and on cleared land simultaneously reduce deforestation and reduce poverty?
The Report of Consultations with Stakeholders in Brazil, 2003 (PDF) recommended 13 key issues for ASB attention. The subsequent Alternatives to Slash-and-Burn in Brazil: Summary Report and Synthesis of Phase II (PDF) asked, "Can intensifying land use within forest and on cleared land simultaneously reduce deforestation and reduce poverty?". The research presented in this report attempts to determine the environmental consequences of different land use systems in the Western Brazilian Amazon, whether these consequences can be mitigated with appropriate technological, policy and institutional changes, and what sorts of tradeoffs exist among the different social objectives facing policy makers.