Amazon deforestation ‘at highest level in a decade’

Amazon deforestation ‘at highest level in a decade’

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: November 18, 2019 SNIP: Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon has hit the highest annual level in a decade, according to new government data which highlights the impact the president, Jair Bolsonaro, has made on the world’s biggest rainforest. The new numbers, showing almost 10,000 sq kms were lost in the year to August, were released as emboldened farm owners scuffled with forest defenders in Altamira, the Amazonian city at the heart of the recent devastation. The assault on the planet’s biggest terrestrial carbon sink by land-grabbers, agribusiness, miners and loggers is accelerating. In the year until 30 July 2019, 9,762 sq kms were lost, an increase of 29.5% over the previous 12 months, the Brazilian space agency INPE said. The clearance rate – equivalent to about two football fields a minute – is the fastest since 2008, pushing Brazil far off course from reaching its Paris agreement goals to cut carbon emissions. The annual numbers are compiled with information from the Prodes satellite system, which is considered the most conservative measurement of deforestation. Although less steep than the rise suggested by monthly alerts from the Deter system, it confirms an upward trend that Bolsonaro and his ministers said was a “lie”, which the former head of the space agency was fired for repeating. Environmental groups blamed the government for “every inch of the increase because it weakened environmental protections, supported loggers and encouraged...
Bolsonaro has blessed ‘brutal’ assault on Amazon, sacked scientist warns

Bolsonaro has blessed ‘brutal’ assault on Amazon, sacked scientist warns

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: August 9, 2019 SNIP: Illegal loggers are ramping up a “brutal, fast” assault on the Brazilian Amazon with the blessing of the far-right president Jair Bolsonaro, the sacked head of the government agency tasked with monitoring deforestation has warned. Speaking to the Guardian five days after his dismissal, Ricardo Galvão said he was “praying to the heavens” the far-right leader would change tack before the Amazon – and Brazil’s international reputation as an environmental leader – were ruined. “This government is sending a very clear message that the control of deforestation will not be like it was in the past …. And when the loggers hear this message that they will no longer be supervised as they were in the past, they penetrate [the rainforest],” Galvão said, claiming “enormous” damage had already been done since Bolsonaro took power in January. “It is a question of brutal, fast economic exploitation.” “There is no doubt about it. They have much closer relations with the loggers [than previous governments] … The president has said explicitly that he wants to make deals with American companies to exploit minerals in indigenous reserves,” Galvão said. Galvão said he hoped the international community would now support “those Brazilians who are struggling against this state of affairs, and force the government to understand that increasing deforestation in the Amazon will only cause harm to Brazil – and to the government itself”. That seems unlikely. This week, as new Inpe data emerged suggesting an “explosion” of Amazon deforestation in July, Bolsonaro scoffed at his portrayal as Brazil’s “Captain Chainsaw” and mocked Emmanuel Macron and...
Bolsonaro Fires Head of Agency Tracking Amazon Deforestation in Brazil

Bolsonaro Fires Head of Agency Tracking Amazon Deforestation in Brazil

SOURCE: NY Times DATE: August 2, 2019 SNIP: President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil on Friday fired the head of a government agency that had revealed a big increase in deforestation in the Amazon, with the dismissal inciting protests from environmental organizations and public workers. The sacking of Ricardo Magnus Osório Galvão, a well-respected physicist, came a day after Mr. Bolsonaro angrily claimed that people within the government were damaging the country’s image abroad by disclosing the rate at which the world’s largest tropical rain forest is withering. Mr. Bolsonaro and his minister of the environment, Ricardo Salles, on Thursday had held a news conference during which they cast doubt on his own government’s figures, which are routinely released monthly, that showed a steep rise in deforestation in the Amazon this year. “The numbers, as I understand it, were released with the objective of harming the name of Brazil and its government,” Mr. Bolsonaro told reporters, speaking alongside Mr. Salles. Mr. Bolsonaro often makes spurious statements. Brazil’s portion of the Amazon lost more than 1,330 square miles of forest cover during the first six months of this year, a 39 percent increase over the same period last year. Since Mr. Bolsonaro took office in January, the main agency that enforces environmental laws has taken considerably fewer enforcement actions. Mr. Bolsonaro, a far-right former Army captain, has said protected indigenous territories should be opened up to mining and other industries. Last week, he called concerns about the environment overblown, saying the issue mattered solely to “vegans, who eat only...
Amazon gold miners invade indigenous village in Brazil after its leader is killed

Amazon gold miners invade indigenous village in Brazil after its leader is killed

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: July 28, 2019 SNIP: Dozens of gold miners have invaded a remote indigenous reserve in the Brazilian Amazon where a local leader was stabbed to death and have taken over a village after the community fled in fear, local politicians and indigenous leaders said. The authorities said police were on their way to investigate. Illegal gold mining is at epidemic proportions in the Amazon and the heavily polluting activities of garimpeiros – as miners are called – devastate forests and poison rivers with mercury. About 50 garimpeiros were reported to have invaded the 600,000-hectare Waiãpi indigenous reserve in the state of Amapá on Saturday. Indigenous people evacuated Mariry and fled to the bigger village of Aramirã – where shots were fired on Saturday. Indigenous leaders and local politicians have called for urgent police help, fearing a bloodbath. “The garimpeiros invaded the indigenous village and are there until today. They are heavily armed, they have machine guns. That is why we asking for help from the federal police,” said Kureni Waiãpi, 26, a member of the tribe who lives in the nearest town of Pedra Branca do Amapari, two hours away and 189km from Amapá state capital Macapá. “If nothing is done they will start to fight.” Kureni Waiãpi said Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro had encouraged invasions like this. “It is because he, the president, is threatening the indigenous peoples of Brazil,” he said. Senator Rodrigues blamed Bolsonaro’s repeated promises to allow mining on protected indigenous reserves, where it is currently prohibited, for the first invasion of Waiãpi land in decades. In the 1970s, the...
Amazon deforestation accelerating towards unrecoverable ‘tipping point’

Amazon deforestation accelerating towards unrecoverable ‘tipping point’

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: July 25, 2019 SNIP: Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon has surged above three football fields a minute, according to the latest government data, pushing the world’s biggest rainforest closer to a tipping point beyond which it cannot recover. The sharp rise – following year-on-year increases in May and June – confirms fears that president Jair Bolsonaro has given a green light to illegal land invasion, logging and burning. Clearance so far in July has hit 1,345 sq km, a third higher than the previous monthly record under the current monitoring system by the Deter B satellite system, which started in 2015. The steady erosion of tree cover weakens the role of the rainforest in stabilising the global climate. Scientists warn that the forest is in growing danger of degrading into a savannah, after which its capacity to absorb carbon will be severely diminished, with consequences for the rest of the planet. “There are a number of tipping points which are not far away,” said Philip Fearnside, a professor at Brazil’s National Institute of Amazonian Research. “We can’t see exactly where they are, but we know they are very close. It means we have to do things right away. Unfortunately that is not what is happening. There are people denying we even have a...