Brazil’s Newly Contacted Tribe Already Has the Flu, and It Could Wipe Them Out

July 25, 2014

Jason Koebler – Motherboard, 7/22/2014

It has happened many times before, and it’s happening again: Members of apreviously uncontacted tribe that recently made contact with the outside world have gotten sick. Now, they’ve retreated back into the Amazon Rainforest, which is very bad news, as it puts the entire tribe at risk of infection—and possibly death.

Last month, seven members of an unnamed, uncontacted tribe in northwestern Brazil became the first of its kind to interact with the Brazilian government in nearly 20 years after reportedly being driven out of the forest by a traumatic event—perhaps the invasion of their land by illegal loggers in Peru. The tribe had been living in the forest completely uninterrupted and without communication with the world outside of the Amazon Rainforest, which is one of the reasons they’re often referred to as “isolated” tribes.

In any case, each of the seven tribe members got the flu, according to FUNAI, the Brazilian agency that deals with indigenous populations. That’s what happens when uncontacted tribes are contacted, because its members haven’t spent hundreds of years being exposed to the diseases that most people’s bodies have become accustomed to.

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Brazil could meet all its food demand by 2040 without cutting down another tree

July 25, 2014

Mongobay.com, 7/24/2014

Better utilization of its vast areas of pasturelands could enable Brazil to dramatically boost agricultural production without the need to clear another hectare of Amazon rainforest, cerrado, or Atlantic forest, argues a new study published in the journal Global Environmental Change.

Modeling agricultural yield potential, Brazilian researchers from the International Institute for Sustainability, Brazil’s agricultural research agency Embrapa, and the national space research agency INPE find that Brazil could turn more than 30 million hectares of land that is currently pasture over to more productive crops, increasing overall agricultural output.

“Our analysis shows that Brazil already has enough to absorb the largest expansion of agricultural production in the world in the next three decades, without deforesting an additional hectare of natural areas and agricultural livestock areas,” said lead author Bernardo Strassburg, a professor at Pontificia Universidade Catolica (PUC-Rio) and executive director at the International Institute for Sustainability. “The key is to increase productivity of the pasture areas. Today we use only a third of the potential of our pasture, and if we pass this potential and use half of it, in 30 years we could increase the production of meat by 50%, and release 32 million acres for other crops such as soybeans and planted forests.”

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Brazil achieves 70% reduction in Amazon deforestation

June 19, 2014

Tim Radford – RTCC, 6/16/2014

Brazil might or might not win the World Cup, but it so far seems a clear winner in the race to reduce carbon emissions, having stopped 3.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide from escaping into the atmosphere during the last decade.

A team of economists and scientists report in the US journal Science that Brazil has achieved this, since 2004, by simply not cutting down 86,000 square kilometres of rainforest. This is, in effect, a 70% decline in deforestation, and in 2013 alone such abstention amounted to a 1.5% drop in global carbon emissions.

It sounds like eccentric accounting – awarding credits for unauthorised destruction that didn’t happen – but it represents a change of course all the same.

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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.

Read the article…


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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