For over half a century the Amazon rainforest has fallen victim to deforestation. It produces over 20% of the oxygen in the world. In 2018 the rate of deforestation rose for the first time in a decade.
INPE, Brazil’s leading force in special research projects, has said that in the years 2017-18 Brazil lost a total area of 7,900km². A staggering 41% above the official target.
This came after president Jair Bolsonaros’s new Brazilian government merged the agricultural and environmental ministries in order to cut costs. In result, the influence of the environmental agency has weakened. Meaning that it’s now easier to pass laws that support agriculture, even if they have a negative environmental impact.
Bolsonaro also pledged to cap fines on destroying rainforest areas. However, fines that are due from before 2008 won’t need to be paid. This came as a surprise; the years 1994-2004 were the worst years for deforestation ever on record.
Brazil’s deforestation detection system: SAD, noticed a 24% increase in forest loss from August 2018 to march this year. This was labeled ‘legal’ deforestation. It’s certain that the government would’ve known about this.
The demand for Brazil’s natural products is ever-growing. In order to maintain it’s economic growth, it’s clear why the government would encourage this scale of farming. Brazil remains one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
Two of Brazil’s biggest exports are soya beans and meat. They contribute a total of $46.8 Billion a year to its economy, a total of 20% of total exports. With this comes serious environmental cost, as both soya and cattle farming require several acres to yield.
There are also other factors contributing to Amazonian destruction. The illegal logging industry is still active. Often linked to drug and arms trafficking; in the last year, police filed a total of 823 criminal charges against logging-related offenses.
Greenpeace Brazil has warned against the severity of deforestation. They say that the rainforest is essential to balance the greenhouse emissions in South America. There is also worries as the worlds extreme level of oil consumption continues. Many areas of the forests are being lost in hopes that crude mining explorations may be a success.
Hydroelectric projects have left huge areas of the Amazon flooded. As well as this, plants are built to power the cattle and soy farms as well as industrial mines. The Brazillian government has already planned to build several more dams in the next 20 years.
Brazil’s ever-expanding road network has also taken its toll on the rainforest. In it’s bid to maintain economic growth, roads and train networks have been built to help with logistics the surging demand for its natural resources.
Brazil is growing. But it’s diverse rainforest is doing the opposite. The question now is are they able to find a sustainable rate of farming and serious efforts to re-plant and cultivate?