Highlight on the Amazon

The Amazon in South America is suffering. And proposed changes to aspects of Brazilian legislation are set to undermine the The Brazilian Forest Code that currently protects land in the Amazon.

The Forest Code was passed in the 1930’s and states that “a landowner must keep part of their land intact. For land in the Amazon, 80% must be kept in its natural condition.”[1]

Just several weeks ago, on May 24 2011, members of the Brazilian House of Representatives swung in favour of alteration to The Brazilian Forest Code. There was a resounding vote in favour of changes that herald a new era of destruction for Amazon forest life.

The proposed changes – that will undermine Amazon biodiversity and environmental stability are:

  • A full amnesty for those farmers and concerns that have already degraded land above and beyond the 80% protection level
  • Reduction to the 80% protection level currently in existence. Natural vegetation on rural properties and along streams and rivers (the riparian buffer zone) are therefore under threat.
  • Permits to be granted for tree lopping – including that of threatened species such as the Araucaria pine

Dr. Meg Symington, Managing Director of the Amazon Program for the World Wildlife Fund has said these alterations represent a “massive step backwards for Brazil in terms of its environmental policy and could lead to massive increases in deforestation.”[2]

Currently, deforestation worldwide contributes as much as 20% of global carbon emissions. Since the proposed changes to The Brazilian Forest Code were introduced, there has been a massive 540% increase in deforestation in the Mato Gross state alone, and it is believed this is due to “landowners anticipating no financial repercussion for lands already cleared, as is one of the proposed changes that are underway.”[3] She has also stated that “4-7% of today’s current global emissions come from the carbon dioxide releases as a result of deforestation in the Amazon.”[4]

The powerful Brazilian farming lobby supports the changes and says it would make Brazil’s agricultural sector far more competitive by increasing their access to productive and fertile lands.  The old 80% figure would be cut down to 20%, freeing up vast tracts of rainforest for further farming and agrarian pursuits.

The main threats, according to Greenpeace, come from soy and cattle producers as well as loggers. Their concern is not only for the wildlife and the delicate rainforest ecosystem, but also the indigenous communities whose cultures and way of life are at risk.[5]

The World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace, as well as many international and Brazilian based environmental organisations are increasing pressure on the Brazilian Government at present, in an attempt to alter or at least slow down the proposed changes to The Forest Code.

Envirosafe Solutions supports the need for responsible consideration of farming, deforestation and legislative practices worldwide to ensure the ongoing maintenance and survival of areas as precious and priceless as The Amazon.

Their own approach to environmental issues is strictly “low impact” and is designed to comprehensively deploy product approaches that minimise harm to the earth. Responsibility is the key.

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[1] WWF http://www.worldwildlife.org/what/wherewework/amazon/threats-forest-code.html

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid.

[5] http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/forests/amazon/threats-and-solutions/