The above map shows the amount of industrial activity in the Amazon and the red crosses show the amount of indigenous people assassinated due to conflicts over rainforest that they are fighting to protect.
Between August 2017 and July 2018 some 7,900 square kilometres of forest were logged in the Brazilian Amazon, the worst annual rate of deforestation in a decade, according to official government data. This represents an increase of 13.7% over the same period last year.
Greenpeace Brazil pointed out, approximately 1,185 million trees were felled in an area equivalent to the size of 987,500 football fields.
This worrying news comes amid fears that the new far right president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, may worsen the situation due to his promise to open more the Amazon to the development of the timber industry, in addition to his public hatred of indigenous people, specifically the Kawahivas people who are on the edge of extinction.
The above graph from Global Witness report ”At What Cost” shows Brazil has the highest rate of environmental defenders being killed than any other country in the world.
The Amazon rain forest is deadlier than ever for land and environmental defenders, with mining and oil industries and agribusiness, these industries are the most linked to genocides of environmentalists and indigenous rainforest activists.
Global Witness’s latest annual data into violence against land and environmental defenders shows a rise in the number of women and men killed over the last few years to 207 in Brazil especially. What’s more, Global Witness’s research has highlighted agribusiness including coffee, palm oil and banana plantations as the industry most associated with these attacks.
Between 2005 and 2011 deforestation decreased in Brazil by an encouraging 70%, mainly due to the increase in government protection in response to a growing awareness to protect the rainforest. Even between 2011 and 2017, when Brazil entered a more chaotic political period, the decline in deforestation stopped, but did not reverse. Bolsonaro’s leadership plans, unfortunately, will undo some of that progress.
However, not only is the rate of deforestation increasing in Brazil, it is also accelerating in Ecuador and the Peruvian Amazon and many indigenous natives are not given legal prior consultation to enter their territories for oil drilling or logging, therefore it is often done brutally with the help of military force, illegally violating indigenous people’s rights. The Amazon rainforest is a boundless region that spans across eight developing countries: Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. Colombia has done more in the past years to step up to conserving large areas of rain forest, they set aside over 28.4 Million hectares of rain forest for conservation purposes.
Image: Rich Carey Shutterstock
In a statement, Brazil’s environment minister, Edson Duarte, blamed illegal logging for increased deforestation in the Amazon and called on the government to step up surveillance in the forests, Reuters reported.
Greenpeace claims that the Brazilian government is not doing enough to stop deforestation. In addition, with Bolsonaro in command, “the predictions for the Amazon (and for the fight against climate change) are not good”.
The loss of forests creates an unpleasant feedback loop in climate change. Forests and forest soils are a major carbon sink, and deforestation adds more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
In the new report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, regarding the limitation of global warming to 1.5 ° C above pre-industrial levels, it is pointed out that the planting of more trees and the maintenance of existing trees are essential to achieve that goal.
Moreover, in the Amazon, biodiversity loss is devastating and irreversible when deforestation occurs, it is not a matter of planting more trees. It is impossible to replace the biodiversity and species lost which have evolved through millions of years in the biodiversity rich Amazon. Half of the world’s entire animal, amphibians, reptiles, birds, plants, and insect species are found in the Amazon rainforest which is the world’s largest biodiversity hotspot.
The Amazon rain forest contains:
One in ten known species on Earth
1.4 billion acres of dense forests, half of the planet’s remaining tropical forests
4,100 miles of winding rivers
2.6 million square miles in the Amazon basin, about 40 percent of South America
There is a clear link between the health of the Amazon and the health of the planet. The rain forests, which contain 90-140 billion metric tons of carbon, help stabilize local and global climate. Deforestation may release significant amounts of this carbon, which could have catastrophic consequences around the world.
by Carlita Shaw