Alarming Rates of Amazonian Deforestation

08 Jul 2019

Brazil. Under right wing president Jair Bolsonaro, the rate of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest has skyrocketed. In the month of June this year, when compared with the same month in 2018, the country saw a deforestation increase of 88%.

Recently no less than 8 former environmental ministers of different political standings have officially criticized the way Bolsonaro’s government is tampering with the country’s environmental policies, and how he has diminished the ministry’s powers. Meanwhile the demarcations and allocations of indigenous peoples reserves, previously carried out by the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI), are now questioned by the new president.

The Amazon Basin constitutes a massive carbon sink, it constantly sequestrates a quantity of carbon equal to 20% of that which currently circulates the atmosphere. Moreover, Brazil’s indigenous peoples are an embedded resource of the forests ability to fight climate change, as their communities help avoid up to 14% of Brazil’s total carbon emissions. The indigenous peoples of Brazil make up only 1% of the country’s total population, yet their rights have been seriously undermined since Bolsonaro took office earlier this year.

With last week’s approval of the free trade agreement Mercosur, the safety of the country’s cultural biodiversity is now further threatened, as EU demand of cheaper meat and soybean are expected to increase the clearing of forest and removal of indigenous communities: between 1990 and 2005 more than 80% of Brazil’s deforestation was caused by the advances of pasture land. Since 60% of the Amazon basin lies within the Brazilian borders, the country and its trading partners are avoiding a responsibility that concerns the well-being of our planet.

Sources: The Guardian, NY times

Blackman, A., & Veit, P. (2018). Titled Amazon Indigenous Communities Cut Forest Carbon Emissions. Ecological Economics153, 56–67.

Sage, C. (2012) Environment and food (London and New York: Routledge)

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