Dom Phillips and Nick Miroff – The Washington Post, 05/22/2016
Signs of a rightward turn by Brazil’s new government have alarmed conservationists and climate change activists who fear a rollback of environmental laws that could accelerate deforestation in the Amazon basin.
With Brazil’s economy in its worst slump since the 1930s, new leader Michel Temer took power this month promising a more business-friendly agenda to spur growth. Temer named a conservative-leaning cabinet whose members include figures with close ties to powerful landowners and agribusiness companies.
Temer has taken control in South America’s largest nation — and the world’s biggest rain forest — at a time when Brazilian lawmakers are considering a major overhaul of environmental laws. This includes a controversial constitutional amendment known as PEC 65 that would reduce licensing requirements for development projects and limit judicial oversight of their impact.
Vincent Bevins – Los Angeles Times, 7/10/2015
Carrying guns and wearing jungle fatigues, the three men don’t look like scientists as they push their way through the thick foliage of the Amazon.
They’re trying to reach a clearing they’ve seen on satellite images. When they finally get there, they discover that the largest trees have been uprooted by a tractor. The ground has been seeded with grass to create a pasture for cattle.
Rodrigo Numeriano, 31, finds a piece of a fruit peel, puts it up to his nose and sniffs.
Richard Schiffman – Newsweek, 3/22/2015
In a world hungry for environmental success stories, Brazil has been the closest thing we have to a golden child. The nation, Latin America’s largest economy, has been growing at an impressive clip, weathering the global financial crisis while cutting deforestation rates in the Amazon to historic lows. Citing its success in protecting the earth’s largest rain forest, President Dilma Rousseff boasted that Brazil is “one of the most advanced countries” for sustainable development, on World Environment Day last June.
But it is too soon to declare victory in the Amazon. Corruption, lawlessness and massive land fraud are now threatening those gains, and an aggressive new development push in the region may soon open remote areas of the forest to being cut.
Between 2005 and 2010, Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions plunged by 39 percent, declining faster than in any other country. Brazil accomplished this by slashing its deforestation rate by more than three-quarters, mostly in the Amazon basin. (Burning forests to clear them is the second biggest source of greenhouse gases after the combustion of fossil fuels, accounting for 30 percent of the carbon dioxide produced by human activities, according to one U.N. study.)
BBC News, 11/26/2014
Brazil said deforestation in the Amazon rainforest has dropped by 18% in the past year. Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said the fall, for the year ending July 2014, meant deforestation was at its second lowest level in 25 years.
But campaigners say alternative monitoring shows an increase for a second year running.
In 2012 the government eased restrictions on landowners, weakening legal protection for the rainforest. Ms Teixeira said 4,848 square kilometres (1,872 square miles) of rainforest were destroyed between August 2013 and July 2014. The figure was down from 5,891 kilometres (2,275 square miles) during the same period a year earlier.
Rachel Huguet – Christian Science Monitor, 6/18/2014
In the heart of the Brazilian Amazon, a group of scientists have become unconventional crusaders in the battle to halt deforestation. They are the engine behind Imazon, one of the most prolific research groups based in the Amazon.
Imazon is now collaborating with the government of the Brazilian state of Pará to combine real-time satellite imagery and advanced mapping techniques with a system of incentives and penalties to embolden indigenous communities, local governments, and farmers to protect the rainforest.
Until recently, Pará was the epicenter of unchecked rainforest devastation. Known locally for its rural corruption and banditry, the region had been losing 6,255 square kilometers of rich biodiversity annually – an area roughly the size of Delaware. The assault threatened the territory of some of the last untouched tribes in the world, and chipped away at the Amazon’s ability to absorb 1.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year, a critical factor in regulating the earth’s climate cycle.
Mac Margolis – Newsweek, 06/05/2013
As Brazil’s skyscrapers and silos rose, it seemed the most impressive quality of this 21st-century Latin American powerhouse was its ability to grow without trashing the environment. Just last year, Brasilia was boasting about a steep decline in deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, a feat that President Dilma Rousseff trumpeted as “impressive, the fruit of social change.” What would she say now?
After nearly a decade of steady decline, forest cutting has spiked again the world’s largest rainforest. The nonprofit Amazon watchdog organization, Imazon, released a study reporting that deforestation at the hands of farmers and ranchers jumped 90 percent in the 12 months since April of last year. And since burning always follows felling, another 88 million tons of carbon dioxide and other gases hit the atmosphere- a 62 percent increase on the year.
For decades, Brazilians were told that ruin in the Amazon was the price of development. But recent research has imploded that assumption. A paper published by the National Academy of Sciences shows that continued deforestation threatens not just the trees but the progress and riches their removal were though to guarantee. The paper bolsters an old theory by Brazilian climate scientist Eneas Salati, who argued that the Amazon actually produced half its own rainfall. The takeaway: remove too much of the forests and the Amazon could dry out. And more than the jungle is at stake. Reduced rainfall from forest cutting could dry up the water that powers hydroelectric dams, thus slashing Brazilian power-generating capacity by 40 percent by mid century. It could also rob the food larder, cutting soybean productivity by 28 percent and beef production by 34 percent.
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.