Posts tagged Amazon Rain Forest
Posts tagged Amazon Rain Forest
Brazil targets Amazon gold miners in Yanomami reserve
Brazilian police have carried out a big operation against illegal gold miners in the Amazon, arresting at least 26 people.
Gold, mining equipment and several aircraft used to take men and supplies into the remote region were seized.
Police said the miners were causing grave environmental damage in the Yanomami indigenous reserve, near Brazil’s border with Venezuela.
The Yanomami have long complained of miners invading their lands.
Five criminal groups involved in illegal gold mining were identified during a year-long investigation in Roraima state, the Federal Police said.
The miners were using powerful pumps mounted on barges to dredge material from the bottom of the river and blast the river banks.
The environmental impact was worsened by the use of highly-toxic mercury to separate gold from the river silt.
Among those arrested are pilots, engineers and businessmen accused of funding the mining operations and selling the gold in the city of Boa Vista.
“The focus of the operation was to target the economic motor of illegal mining, which is to say the financiers and the planes used to invade indigenous lands,” police superintendent Alexandre Silva Saraiva told O Globo newspaper.
Around 20,000 Yanomami live in relative isolation in the indigenous reserve, which covers nearly 100,000 square km (38,610 square miles) of rainforest along the Venezuelan border.
The tribe has been resisting encroachment by gold miners for decades, accusing them of destroying the rainforest and introducing diseases.
In recent years the soaring price of gold on world markets has driven a surge in unlicensed gold-mining in many parts of the Amazon.
Pictured: The huge scale of the Amazon makes it hard for the authorities to control
Dilma Rousseff sends back parts of congressional bill that loosened country’s protection of forest
Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff has partially vetoed a bill that would have weakened her country’s efforts to protect the Amazon and other forests.
Environmentalists cautiously welcomed the last-minute decision, which came after the most closely watched political debate of the year in Brazil. But they warned that the battle was not yet over because large parts of the bill will still go through.
Last month, legislators in both houses passed a set of revisions to the Forest Code that threatened permanent preservation areas – a key provision in Brazilian environmental legislation – that obliged farmers to keep a proportion of their land as protected forests, particularly on the fringes of rivers and hillsides. This requirement has long been opposed by Brazil’s powerful agricultural lobby.
One study by São Paulo University suggested the proposed revision could would result in deforestation of an additional 22 million hectares.
WWF, Greenpeace, the Brazilian Academy of Science and the Catholic Church urged Rousseff to completely veto the bill. The global activist group, Avaaz, collected 2 million signatures opposing the legislation.
With Brazil due to host the Rio+20 Earth Summit next month, approval of the bill would also have set a poor example of sustainability ahead of a conference that aims to set a new roadmap for the global environment.
But the bill was popular among powerful landowners, farmers and many business people, who said it would be good for the economy to ease protection measures.
Forced to choose between these diverging forces, president Rousseff compromised by using a line veto to reject 12 clauses – including an amnesty for illegal loggers - and to amend 32 others, such as a requirement for large landowners to reforest illegally cleared land.
Pictured: A deforested area of the Amazon rainforest near Novo Progresso in Brazil’s northern state of Para. Photograph: Andre Penner/AP/AP
Brazilian congress adopts controversial land use law
Bill makes it easier for Amazon farmers to comply with rules that stipulate how much forest they must preserve, campaigners say
Brazil’s congress voted late on Wednesday to ease rules mandating the amount of forest farmers must keep on their land, delivering a long-sought victory to the country’s powerful agriculture lobby and a political defeat for president Dilma Rousseff.
Though the bill will require millions of hectares of already cleared land to be replanted, environmentalists say it makes it too easy for farmers, responsible for much of the deforestation of the Amazon and other swaths of environmentally sensitive land in recent decades, to comply with regulations that stipulate how much forest they must preserve.
Rousseff still has the option to veto the bill, one of the most controversial to pass Brazil’s congress in recent years. The bill was supported by some of her party’s senators and members of its multi-party coalition, even though the president had previously said she would veto earlier versions of the law that contained provisions perceived as too lenient on farmers who have cleared woodlands for agriculture.
The final law, which was changed dramatically from a hard-bargained version her government was backing, will leave it to federal states to decide how much forest needs to be replaced alongside rivers, making it possible for big farming states to make only minimal demands of farmers.
“The approved bill gives a total and unrestricted amnesty to those who deforested … and goes against what the government itself had wanted,” environmental group Greenpeace said in a statement. “If [Rousseff] doesn’t react and veto this text, this future will be her legacy,” it said.
Pushing through the more lenient language the farming lobby sought was only possible through a rebellion by senators from within the government coalition.
A big enough majority in Congress could also knock down a veto by Rousseff, should she choose to use it.
“We lost. The government lost,” said the leader of Rousseff’s Workers party in the lower house of congress. The powerful farming lobby in congress had fought hard to minimise obligations the new law would impose on them.
The bill and its likely future impact have been watched closely in and outside Brazil, home to the world’s biggest rainforest and a country considered a reference for how other developing nations manage their woodlands.
Pictured: A member of Brazil’s Congress protests against the adoption of the country’s new Forest Code. The placard reads: ‘Forest Code, Veto Dilma’. Photograph: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters
Undercover investigators film loggers taking huge tree trunks out of the territory of the Awá tribe. According to Survival International, they are the world’s most threatened tribe, with their homes being destroyed by industrial projects and cattle ranching. The 355 Awá, who live in four communities in Maranhão state, are fully dependent on the forest
Brazil vote sparks fears for future of rainforest
London (CNN) — Brazil stands at a crossroads in its efforts to preserve the Amazon rainforest, as the government considers controversial legislation governing land use.
For most of the last decade it has made a dramatic reduction in the rate of deforestation — providing a model of how it could be tackled in other rainforest areas such as Indonesia and Congo.
The Amazon rainforest covers a huge area, roughly half as large as the United States, with around 60% of it in Brazil.
It is estimated that nearly a fifth of the Brazilian forest has been lost since 1970 — figures from Brazil’s space research institute (INPE) show that 4.1 million square kilometers (1.58 million square miles) of Brazilian forest were still standing in 1970 compared to 3.35 million square kilometers (1.29 million square miles) today.
Like many developing nations, there is pressure on the natural environment from commercial and agriculture interests.
According to INPE, in 1995 nearly 30,000 square kilometers (about 11,550 square miles) were cleared — that is an area about the size of Belgium or the U.S. state of Maryland — but in 2011 the rate of loss had been reduced to just over 6,000 square kilometers (about 2,400 square miles).
Last year saw the lowest annual clearance since yearly INPE surveys began in 1988 and Brazil is aiming to reduce deforestation even further to 3,500 square kilometres annually by 2020.
Brazil’s environment ministry credits its success on a combination of support for sustainable activities and near real-time satellite monitoring of forest regions that allows it to target illegal operations with extra agents.
But environmentalists worry that these results — brought about by efficient use of technology allied with a political will to slow clearing — could now be put at risk by an overhaul of Brazil’s Forest Code. Protesters say the new code, which could come into effect after a much-delayed crucial vote, reduces protection and weakens enforcement laws.
“The changes in the new Forest Code will reduce this protection. Combined with the strong presence of ‘ruralists’ in the Congress — congressmen linked to the agri-business sector — there is good reason to be very concerned for the future of forests in Brazil,” said Jessica Miller of Greenpeace Brazil.
Pictured: Nicknamed the Cowboy Frog, this tiny amphibian was thought to be new to science when discovered in Suriname, South America