Destruction of Brazil’s Amazon jumps 28%

November 18, 2013

Marco Sibaja – Associated Press, 11/14/2013

Brazil’s government reported Thursday that annual destruction of its Amazon rainforest jumped by 28 percent after four straight years of declines, an increase activists said was linked to recent loosening of the nation’s environmental law meant to protect the jungle.

However, the destruction was still the second-lowest amount of jungle destroyed since Brazil began tracking deforestation in 1988.

The increase in deforestation came in the August 2012 through July 2013 period, the time when Brazil annually measures the destruction of the forest by studying satellite images. The country registered its lowest level of Amazon felling the year before.

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Brazil data indicate increase in Amazon deforestation

July 8, 2013

Reuters, 07/05/2013

Brazilian government figures released on Friday indicated further rise in deforestation in the Amazon, a trend that could soon amount to a full year’s reversal from recent progress in the battle against destruction of the world’s largest rainforest.

Satellite data compiled by Brazil’s space agency showed 465 sq km (180 sq mi) of deforestation during the month of May, nearly a five-fold increase compared with destruction detected in May 2012.

Since August, the month when Brazil’s annual measurement of cleared rainforest starts, a total of 2,338 square kilometers (903 sq mi) have been detected – a 35 percent increase from figures compiled a year ago. The area, roughly three times the size of New York City, is already more than the total of 2,051 square kilometers (792 sq mi) detected by the same system for the 12 months of measurement ended in July 2012.

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Amazon be damned: deforestation undermines future viability of Brazil’s hydropower projects

May 16, 2013

Erin Brodwin – Scientific American, 05/15/2013

The Amazon Basin is the epicenter of the world’s hydropower plants—the same gushing rains that give the region its lush foliage make it a prime destination for developers seeking to capitalize on this allegedly renewable energy source. But the long-term sustainability of these projects, which use the natural flow of water to generate electricity, is now under scrutiny.

A new study of the Belo Monte Dam, one of the world’s largest hydropower energy complexes currently under construction on the Xingu River in the eastern region of the basin, found that large-scale deforestation in the Amazon poses a significant threat to a dam’s energy-generating potential.

Although many studies have examined the impacts of deforestation on the immediate vicinity of hydropower projects, less attention has been paid to its effects on a regional scale. In fact, earlier studies found that a loss of trees within the water basin of hydropower sites increased the energy-generating capacity of the dam in the short-term, because less trees were available to suck water from the ground and export it outside the watershed in a process known as evapotranspiration.

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Forest ecology: Splinters of the Amazon

April 18, 2013

Thomas E. Lovejoy, a member of the Wilson Center’s Brazil Institute Advisory Board, has  his work and legacy on the Amazon forest research featured in a four-page article in the latest edition of Nature  magazine.

A leading biologist who pioneered the concept of biodiversity, Lovejoy   has conducted in the past 34 years the largest and longest-running experiment in tropical ecology. The experiment aims at testing fundamental theories about the viability of small, disconnected ecosystems and takes place in what is called “Camp 41”.  Also serving as the scientific ambassador and chief fund-raiser of the project, Camp 41 has had the visits of personalities such as Tom Cruise and Al Gore. Among the main results of the research are the findings that scientists were underestimating the impacts of fragmentation and that secondary – regrown – forests create wildlife corridors, being a possible solution to diminish the impacts of deforestation. Lovejoy`s work has led to the development of similar experiments in Kansas and Borneo, as well as the creation of a non-profit conservation organization. It impacted hundreds of Brazilian scientists who have moved through the project and are now in important positions at the research and government fields. The next step for the project is to institutionalize and stabilize it through the acquisition of the ranchlands surrounding the experiment and the creation of an educational facility.

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Brazilian meat packers face fines

April 16, 2013

The Miami Herald/AP, 04/16/2013

Federal prosecutors in Brazil want 26 meat packing companies to pay fines of more than $200 million for buying cattle raised illegally.

The federal prosecutors’ office says in a statement that prosecutors in the Amazon jungle states of Amazonas, Mato Grosso and Rondonia, want the companies to pay 557 million reals ($278.5 million) for producing beef products from cattle raised in environmentally sensitive regions, on indigenous reservations and at farms that have been blacklisted for using slave-like labor.

It said that during the first nine months of 2012, the 26 companies bought and slaughtered almost 56,000 heads of cattle raised illegally.

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Blood in the Amazon

April 5, 2013

Al Jazeera, 04/04/2013

Jose Claudio Ribeira and his wife Maria do Espirto Santo dedicated their lives to protecting the Amazon and developing a way to live sustainably off the land, but their campaign against loggers and ranchers made them prime targets.

Their murder two years ago captured headlines around their world, but their story is far from unique.

A report released last year by the environmental advocacy group Global Witness, found that between 2002 and 2011 more than 300 environment activists have been killed in Brazil, and it is very rare that anyone is held accountable.

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Trial in deaths of Amazon activists ends in Brazil

April 5, 2013

Stan Lehman – The Miami Herald, 04/04/2013

A man who prosecutors accused of masterminding the killing of two Amazon activists in northern Brazil in 2011 was acquitted by a jury on Thursday.

Jose Rodrigues Moreira was acquitted due to insufficient evidence, said Edmundo Rodrigues Costa, the national coordinator of the Catholic Land Pastoral watchdog group that tracks land-related violence. Costa said prosecutors plan to appeal.

But the panel found two others, Lindonjonson Silva Rocha and Alberto Lopes do Nascimento, guilty of carrying out the killings of the activists. Rocha was sentenced to 42 years and eight months and Nascimento got 45 years. Costa said their attorneys will appeal those rulings as well.

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Suspected killers of ecologists on trial in Brazil

April 3, 2013

France 24/AFP, 04/03/2013

Three suspected killers of a couple who blew the whistle on illegal logging in the Brazilian Amazon went on trial Wednesday.

Antonio Filho, a member of Brazil’s Catholic Church-affiliated Pastoral Land Commission (CPT) who is monitoring the trial before a court in the Amazonian town of Maraba, said it was expected to last until Thursday.

In the dock are Jose Rodrigues Moreira, who allegedly masterminded the May 2011 ambush killing of Jose Claudio da Silva and his wife Maria do Espirito Santo near Maraba, and the two alleged perpetrators Lindonjonson Silva Rocha and Alberto Lopes do Nascimento.

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Brazil to probe Anglo American port accident

April 2, 2013
Samantha Pearson – Financial Times, 4/1/2013
Prosecutors have launched an inquiry into a fatal accident at Anglo American’s port in northern Brazil, fearing it may also have caused environmental damage in the Amazon region.

Antônio Carlos Marques Cardoso, prosecutor of the republic in the state of Amapá where the incident occurred, told the Financial Times he had opened a civil investigation on Monday, which could lead to possible fines.

Three workers died and another three are still missing after a landslide at the Santana port on Thursday night dragged trucks, cranes and other mining machinery into the Amazon river.

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Brazil supermarkets ‘to avoid Amazon meat’

March 26, 2013

BBC News, 03/25/2013

The main group representing supermarkets in Brazil says it will no longer sell meat from cattle raised in the rainforest.

The Brazilian Association of Supermarkets, which has 2,800 members, hopes the deal will cut down on the illegal use of rainforest for pasture.

Deforestation in the Amazon has slowed over the past years but invasion of public land continues to be a problem.

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