Brazil plans to ‘nationalise’ rainforest in pioneering plan to protect Amazon

Donna Bowater – The Independent, 5/10/2015

The Brazilian rainforest could be effectively nationalised under a draft bill being considered by the country’s MPs.

The proposed legislation would recognise the sovereignty of Brazil over the Amazon’s natural resources and set up a national Amazonian policy council with the aim of enshrining environmental protection and regulating economic activities in the rainforest.

Should the law be passed, companies wanting to operate in the area would require approval from the new state entity in return for shares of the proceeds – in a similar way to that which oil exploration concessions are granted through state-controlled company Petrobras in return for royalties.

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Amazonian tribes unite to demand Brazil stop hydroelectric dams

Jonathan Watts – The Guardian, 4/30/2015

Four Amazonian tribes have joined forces to oppose the construction of hydroelectric dams in their territory as the Brazilian government ramps up efforts to exploit the power of rivers in the world’s biggest forest.

The Munduruku, Apiaká, Kayabi and Rikbaktsa released a joint statement on Thursday demanding the halt of construction on a cascade of four dams on the Teles Pires – a tributary of the Tapajós.

They say the work at the main area of concern – the São Manoel dam – threatens water quality and fish stocks. The site has already reportedly expanded almost to the edge of a nearby village, although the local communities say they have not been consulted as they obliged to be under national laws and international standards.

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Brazil Scientists Fear Golden Mussel Threat to Amazon River

Jenny Barchfield – ABC News, 2/5/2015

The world’s mightiest waterway, the Amazon River, is threatened by the most diminutive of foes — a tiny mussel invading from China.

Since hitching its way to South America in the early 1990s, the golden mussel has claimed new territory at alarming speeds, plowing through indigenous flora and fauna as it has spread to waters in five countries. Now, scientists fear the invasive species could make a jump into the Amazon, threatening one of the world’s unique ecological systems.

“There’s no doubt the environmental effect would be dramatic,” said Marcia Divina de Olivieira, a scientist with the Brazilian government’s Embrapa research agency.

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Brazil sees “surprising” deforestation drop in Amazon

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.

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Brazil Military Drills to Defend Amazon

Simon Romero – The New York Times, 11/8/2014

Brazil’s army is deploying troops this month to the far reaches of the Amazon in a military exercise simulating a foreign invasion of the rain forest, focusing attention on sensitivity over sovereignty in a region rising in importance as a strategic pillar of Latin America’s largest economy.

The troop mobilization, starting on Monday and called Operation Machifaro, points to a deepening of a central element of military doctrine in Brazil, which holds the defense of the Amazon as a top priority. The Amazon’s mineral wealth and vast reserves of fresh water place the region “in the context of potential threats,” military officials here said in a statement.

“The operation will provide ways for optimizing a strategy of resistance in the region,” said Gen. Guilherme Cals Theophilo Gaspar de Oliveira, chief of Brazil’s Amazon Military Command. He also emphasized that the exercise was aiming to “consolidate a doctrine of jungle combat.”

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Brazil must target smallholders to curb rising deforestation

Anastasia Moloney – The Guardian, 10/20/2014

Farmers with smallholdings are not responsible for most of the destruction of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, but their contribution to deforestation is rising and must be addressed if the country is to hold on to recent gains, according to an environmental research group.

Government efforts led to a 77% fall in deforestation in the Amazon between 2004 and 2011, but progress has slowed and deforestation is rising, the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) said in a report.

The report said that between 2004 and 2011, landowners with more than 500 hectares (1,235 acres) of property were responsible for about 48% of the deforestation. Areas owned by smallholders accounted for 12% of the forests destroyed during the same period. However, since 2005, the contribution to annual deforestation by the largest landowners has fallen by 63%, while that of smallholders has increased by 69%, the report said.

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Activists use GPS to track illegal loggers in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest

Damian Carrington – The Guardian, 10/14/2014

Covert GPS surveillance of timber trucks by Amazon campaigners has revealed how loggers are defeating attempts to halt deforestation in the world’s greatest rainforest. Raids by law enforcement officers are expected early on Wednesday morning, acting on the evidence handed to them by Greenpeace Brazil.

The activists went undercover in the remote and dangerous state of Pará to secretly place GPS tracking devices on trucks suspected of illegal logging, the first time the tactic has been used. It revealed 200-mile-long journeys deep into protected regions of rainforest to collect logs and return journeys under the cover of night to sawmills in the Amazon port of Santarém, from where timber is exported to Europe, the US, China, and Japan. Satellite and aerial images were also collected and analysed during the hi-tech operation.

Violence has frequently accompanied attempts to expose illegal logging but the leader of the Greenpeace operation told the Guardian he had been determined to succeed.

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Brazil Says No to Global Forest Plan

Associated Press – ABC News, 09/23/2014

Despite its critical role in protecting the Amazon rainforest, Brazil will not endorse a global anti-deforestation initiative being announced at the U.N. climate summit, complaining it was left out of the consultation process. A U.N. official disputed that claim.

Brazilian Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said Brazil was “not invited to be engaged in the preparation process” of the declaration. Instead, she said Brazil was given a copy of the text and asked to endorse it without being allowed to suggest any changes.

“Unfortunately, we were not consulted. But I think that it’s impossible to think that you can have a global forest initiative without Brazil on board. It doesn’t make sense,” Teixeira said in an interview Monday with The Associated Press.

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Brazil Says No to Anti-Deforestation Plans: The Difficulty of a Global Response to Climate Change

Hannah Osborne – International Business Times, 09/23/2014

Brazil has refused to endorse a global anti-deforestation initiative put forward at the UN climate summit because it says it was left out of the consultation process.

According to an exclusive report by the Associated Press, environment minister Izabella Teixeira said her country was “not invited to be engaged in the preparation process” of the plan.

“Unfortunately, we were not consulted. But I think that it’s impossible to think that you can have a global forest initiative without Brazil on board. It doesn’t make sense,” she said. However, a UN official denied her claims, saying “there were efforts to reach out to the Brazilian government”. Charles McNeill, a senior environmental policy adviser with the UN, said: “There wasn’t a response [from Brazil].”

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Brazil building Amazon observation tower to monitor climate change impact

Agence France-Presse – The Guardian, 09/14/2014

Brazil is building a giant observation tower in the heart of the Amazon to monitor climate change and its impact on the region’s sensitive ecosystem, a newspaper has reported. The Amazon Tall Tower Observatory is a project of Brazil’s National Institute of Amazonian Research and Germany’s Max Planck Institute, O Estado de São Paulo said.

The tower, which will rise 325 metres from the ground, will be equipped with high-tech instruments and an observatory to monitor relationships between the jungle and the atmosphere. It will gather data on heat, water, carbon gas, winds, cloud formation, carbon absorption and weather patterns.

The project has been seven years in the making, with a site finally being selected far from any human presence, about 100 miles from Manaus, capital of the state of Amazonas, project coordinator Antonio Manzi told the newspaper.

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