Destruction of Brazilian Amazon spikes by almost a third

Amel Ahmed – Al Jazeera America, 9/11/2014

The rate of destruction blighting the world’s largest rain forest spiked by nearly a third last year, according to new data released by the Brazilian government.

Satellite data showed that 2,315 square miles of forest had been cleared from the Brazilian Amazon in the 12 months through July 2013, up 29 percent from the previous year.

It reflects a reversal in the downward trend since 2009.

Read more…

Brazil says rate of Amazon deforestation up for first time in years

Vincent Bevins – Los Angeles Times, 09/10/2014

The  deforestation of the Amazon in Brazil increased by 29% in the last recorded year, according to figures released Wednesday by the country’s National Institute for Space Research, or INPE. It is the first time the deforestation rate has increased since 2008, and the report comes as environmental issues move to the center of Brazil’s October presidential election.

According to the study, carried out by satellite imaging, the Brazilian region of the world’s largest rain forest lost 2,275 square miles, nearly five times the area of the city of Los Angeles, from August 2012 through July 2013.

Despite the jump, the space agency noted that this is still the second-lowest number since it began monitoring deforestation in 1988, when more than 7,700 square miles were lost.

Read more… 

Illegal Gold Miners In Brazil Destroying Amazon, Indigenous Tribes At Risk

Kitco News – Forbes, 9/10/2014

Illegal gold mining is by no means a new phenomenon, but it has been getting more and more attention with gold’s decade-long bull run.

In the past, the focus on illegal gold mining has been more about the money countries are losing, but the spotlight is how starting to shift to the impact of these illegal practices on the environment.

At the moment, the Amazon rainforest, Earth’s largest rainforest, is seeing a growing number of illegal miners operating within it, causing environmental damage and disrupting Indigenous tribes living on government protected land.

Read more…

Brazil Could Save Its Atlantic Forests for Just $200 Million a Year

Douglas Main – Newsweek, 8/28/2014

The forests surrounding some of Brazil’s biggest cities, like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, are home to a dizzying variety of life, with iconic species like golden lion tamarins (pictured above), maned three-toed sloths and red-tailed parrots. A total of 2,200 species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians are found in Brazil’s Atlantic forests, and nearly 200 types of birds live there and nowhere else.

But these forests are disappearing as farmers clear them for agriculture and as towns spread outward; less than 15 percent of the original forest cover remains.

The good news is that scientists have calculated that it would cost a relatively small amount to pay the area’s farmers to protect their own land by not developing it. By their estimate, it would cost Brazil $198 million annually—or 6.5 percent of what the country currently spends on agricultural subsidies—to preserve enough land to harbor a sustainable level of flora and fauna, the scientists wrote in a study published today (August 28) in the journal Science.

Read more…

Brazil dismantles ‘biggest destroyer’ of Amazon rainforest

BBC News, 8/27/2014

The authorities in Brazil say they have dismantled a criminal organisation they believe was the “biggest destroyer” of the Amazon rainforest.

The gang is accused of invading, logging and burning large areas of public land and selling these illegally for farming and grazing. In a statement, Brazilian Federal Police said the group committed crimes worth more than $220m (£134m).

A federal judge has issued 14 arrest warrants for alleged gang members. Twenty-two search warrants were also issued and four suspects are being called in for questioning.

Read more…

Deforestation: Brazil is a success story for conservation

Eva Botkin-Kowacki – The Christian Science Monitor, 8/28/2014

Climate scientists link about 10 percent of annual global carbon increase to the effects of deforestation. But a new study points to a promising shift.

In the 1990s, tropical deforestation claimed 40 million acres each year, according to a report released in June by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Today, about 32 million acres of forests fall each year, a drop of about 19 percent.

Trees grow by absorbing carbon dioxide, locking it away in their roots, trunks, branches, and leaves, and emitting oxygen in return.

Read more… 

Brazil’s “Dalai Lama of the Rainforest” Faces Death Threats

Fabiola Ortiz – Truth Out, 8/18/2014

Davi Kopenawa, the leader of the Yanomami people in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, who is internationally renowned for his struggle against encroachment on indigenous land by landowners and illegal miners, is now fighting a new battle – this time against death threats received by him and his family.

“In May, they [miners] told me that he wouldn’t make it to the end of the year alive,” Armindo Góes, 39, one of Kopenawa’s fellow indigenous activists in the fight for the rights of the Yanomami people, told IPS.

Kopenawa, 60, is Brazil’s most highly respected indigenous leader. The Yanomami shaman and spokesman is known around the world as the “Dalai Lama of the Rainforest” and has frequently participated in United Nations meetings and other international events.

Read more…

Brazil’s presidential election now features two frontrunners with amazing back stories

Jenni Avins – Quartz, 8/19/2014

In the wake of Brazilian presidential candidate Eduardo Campos’ death in a plane crash last week in Santos, Sao Paulo, there has been much discussion over who would succeed him as the Brazilian Socialist Party’s (PSB) candidate. Now, itappears the PSB will officially announce Campos’ vice-presidential running mate Marina Silva’s candidacy at a meeting on Aug 20.

A winding political road to the presidential ticket

Although Silva’s succession to Campos seems logical—she was his vice-presidential candidate, after all—her path to the PSB was indirect. Silva only joined Campos’ ticket after her attempt to register a new political party, the Sustainability Network, fell short of the authenticated signatures required last year.

In 2010, Silva ran for president on the Green Party ticket and came in at a respectable third place, having earned a reputation for tough efficiency as environment minister under former president Luis Inácio Lula da Silva. More than 700 people went to prison for environmental crimes and deforestation slowed during her tenure. But Silva very dramatically resigned in 2008, to protest Lula’s support of development in the rainforest.

Read more…

Brazil praised for saving forests

News 24, 8/18/2014

Brazil has made good progress in safeguarding the Amazon rainforest but Indonesia’s plans for its forests could face setbacks under a new government, a report commissioned by top forest aid donor Norway said on Monday.

Norway, rich from offshore oil and gas, paid $1.7bn to slow tropical deforestation from 2008-13, according to the report by the state-funded Norwegian Agency for Development Co-operation (Norad).

“Brazil’s deforestation rate and corresponding greenhouse gas emissions have strongly decreased”, the report said of progress in protecting the Amazon, the biggest tropical forest.

Read more…

How to save an Amazonian tribe

Jonathan Watts – The Guardian, 8/8/2014

Wading across an Amazonian river, naked save for loin straps and face paint, the tribesmen who recently emerged from isolation in Brazil have stirred up the world’s imagination and concern. It is the most dramatic contact with such a remote group in more than a decade, and the video of their encounter with government officials near the border with Peru went viral after it was released last week.

But after initial amazement, the focus has now turned to the difficult task of keeping the group safe and free from disease, as well as trying to understand why they were driven to cross the threshold into modern society – a step that has often proved fatal in the past.

Largely unheard of until last month and still unidentified, this community of about 50 hunter-gatherers who roam the Upper Envira river region of Acre state has now attracted global attention. The Brazilian government’s indigenous people’s authority, known as Funai, has dispatched a team of ethnologists, linguists and doctors to receive them and prepare for a possible vaccination campaign against the “white-man’s flu” that has wiped out other tribes.

Read more…