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Amazon Rainforest: Tracking the conservation of 'lungs of Earth'

Amazon Rainforest: Tracking the conservation of 'lungs of Earth'

Amazon Rainforest is often referred to as the "lungs of Earth" to signify its importance as a climate regulator. Spread over 650 million hectares, the forest falls within borders of nine South American countries and directly impacts the rainfall in those countries. Many experts also argue that it can even impact the weather of regions as far as Europe.

Amazon Rainforest stores billions of tonnes of carbon and is crucial in the fight against climate change. Its importance is well established but the forest is still in grave danger due to rapid deforestation and massive fires. Serious concerns have been raised over inadequate action to protect the forest and many environmentalists also argue that in many cases, governments are the reason for Amazon's destruction.

In an effort to track the progress of conservation of the humongous Amazon Rainforest, this Live Discourse aims to report all the happenings and scientific studies related to the "lungs of Earth" .


Brazil | Parag Narang
Updated: 12-02-2020 13:18 IST Created: 21-11-2019 14:05 IST

1:18 PMBrazil has authorized its national public security force to support efforts to fight deforestation in the Amazon, amid worries that 2020 could see another surge in the destruction of the world's largest rainforest. Justice Minister Sergio Moro approved the security force, composed of police with special military-style training, to support operations carried out by environmental agency Ibama in Para state through the end of the year, according to the official government gazette.Para is Brazil's second-largest rainforest state and sits along the so-called arc of deforestation that encircles the Amazon and is rapidly penetrating deeper into the forest.The announcement comes as scientists, environmental enforcement agents, and official statistics point toward another potential spike in deforestation this year, after soaring to an 11-year high in 2019. Read more

1:14 PMBrazilian President Jair Bolsonaro proposed a new bill Wednesday that would allow mining, farming, and hydroelectric power projects on formerly protected land in the world's largest rainforest, saying: "I hope this dream... comes true."He further stoked controversy by naming a former Evangelical missionary to head the government department responsible for protecting isolated indigenous groups in Brazil, which is home to at least 100 uncontacted tribes, more than any other country. Read more

1:14 PMThe main organization representing Brazil's 300 indigenous tribes said on Friday it would sue far-right President Jair Bolsonaro for racism after he said indigenous people were "evolving" and becoming more human."We need to put a stop to this perverse man," Sonia Guajajara, leader of the Association of Indigenous Peoples (APIB), wrote on Twitter. "APIB will go to court against Jair Bolsonaro for the crime of racism."Racism is considered a serious crime in Brazil and can carry a sentence of up to five years.The controversial comments, the latest in a series of presidential outbursts on tribes living in the vast Amazon rainforest, came in a video posted on social media on Thursday. "The Indian has changed, he is evolving and becoming more and more, a human being like us," Bolsonaro said. "What we want is to integrate him into society so he can own his land."

6:54 PMColombia is asking indigenous Amazon tribes to suggest ways to spend more than $7 million available to fight deforestation, the nation's environment minister said on Wednesday, part of an international effort to protect the threatened rainforest.Involving native tribal communities is critical to saving the Amazon, which in Colombia covers about 26 million hectares (100,387 square miles), said Environment Minister Ricardo Lozano at a news conference.The more than $7 million on offer to Colombia's Amazon indigenous tribes is part of hundreds of millions of dollars provided by Norway, Germany, and Britain to a United Nations-backed anti-deforestation effort called REDD+ that provides funds to countries for lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

6:24 PMThe number of fires in the Amazon rainforest grew 30.5% in 2019 from the previous year, according to data released by space research agency INPE on Wednesday.According to INPE, the number of fires detected in the Amazon region was 89,178 in 2019 compared with 68,345 fires in 2018. Although the number of fires rose, it was still below the historic average of 109,630 fires in the Amazon each year.INPE's fire monitoring program also identified rising number of fires last year in other Brazilian ecosystems such as Pantanal and Cerrado. Brazil and Bolivia struggled to curb massive forest fires in 2019.

2:23 PMThe regrowth of Amazonian forests following deforestation may happen at a much slower rate than previously thought, according to a new study. The research, published in the journal Ecology, monitored forest regrowth over two decades and shows that climate change, and the wider loss of forests, could be hampering regrowth in the Amazon.Based on the findings, the researchers, including those from Lancaster University in the UK, predict there could be significant impacts for climate change predictions. They reasoned this could be because the ability of secondary forests to soak up carbon from the atmosphere may have been over-estimated.Read More: Amazon forest regrowth happening much slower than thought: Study

6:44 PMAn Earth observation satellite jointly developed by China and Brazil was launched into space on Friday under a bilateral program seen as a template for broader cooperation among BRICS nations. The China-Brazil Earth Resource Satellite-4A was launched on a Long March-4B rocket in the northern Chinese province of Shanxi, the official Xinhua news agency reported.The CBERS-4A will support the Brazilian government’s monitoring of the Amazon rainforest and changes in the country’s environment, according to Xinhua.

6:08 PMDeforestation in Brazil's Amazon in November surged by 104 percent compared to the same month in 2018, according to official data released Saturday. The 563 square kilometers (217 square miles) deforested that month is also the highest number for any November since 2015, according to Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE), which provides official data on deforestation.

5:12 PMBritish musician Sting was awarded an international prize on Tuesday for his work to protect the Amazon rainforest and its indigenous inhabitants where a battle over land is becoming more deadly with a spate of killings in recent days. The Global Citizen Prize was given to the 17-time Grammy-award singer-songwriter as part of his work with the Rainforest Fund, a charitable foundation he co-founded with his wife, Trudie Styler, in 1989 to support indigenous people.

5:00 PMNorway, Germany, and Britain have said that they would spend up to $366 million over the next five years to help Colombia reduce deforestation in its vast Amazon rainforest.The three nations have backed Colombia's efforts since to preserve forest areas covering almost 60 million hectares since 2015, with about $180 million invested so far. "The renewal of the declaration is a recognition of Colombia's ability to reverse the deforestation trend, having achieved a 10% reduction in deforestation in 2018 compared to 2017," the countries said in a joint statement.Colombia has set ambitious goals to curb deforestation, including reducing the annual loss of natural forests to 155,000 hectares (380,000 acres) or less by 2022 and 100,000 hectares or less by 2025. If successful, this would mean a reduction in Colombia's deforestation rates by 50% compared to 2018.

6:21 PMTwo indigenous men, members of the Guajajara tribe in northeastern Brazil, were shot dead on Saturday, and two others were hurt, not far from where a prominent tribesman who defended the Amazon rainforest was also killed last month, authorities said.Indigenous tribes in Brazil are facing escalating violence during the presidency of Jair Bolsonario, who has promised to reduce tribal rights and encouraged the commercial exploitation of their protected lands.Tribes have faced violence, especially from illegal loggers and miners. Magno Guajajara, a spokesman for the tribe, said they did not know why the two men had been shot, whom he identified as Firmino Guajajara and Raimundo Guajajara. But the men were on a highway, coming back from a meeting when the shooting happened.Paulo Paulino Guajajara, the "forest guardian" killed last month was shot in a confrontation with illegal loggers.

6:16 PMBrazil can't stop deforestation in the Amazon without the help of rich countries, the country's environment minister said at the United Nations' two-week climate change conference. Ricardo Salles, who declined to set a target for limiting deforestation in the coming year, said in an interview Saturday with The Associated Press that his country is committed to reducing illegal activity, but needs the support of developed nations."We are willing to do whatever is necessary to do so, but we need that backup," Salles said. "That back up was promised many years ago and we're still expecting the rich countries to participate in a proper way. Proportional funds are really are what are going to be needed for that task."Deforestation in the 12 months through July reached the highest annual rate in 11 years. Brazil's annual deforestation report released in November showed a nearly 30 percent jump from the prior year in the Amazon, which lost 3,769 square miles (9,760 square kilometers) of the forest.Salles said developed nations should help Brazil on the basis of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement signed in 2015 on tackling the effects of climate change. The article says monetary compensation mechanisms must be created to help developing countries. Brazil already receives money from wealthy nations, namely Germany and Norway, to fight deforestation in the vast Amazon rainforest.

4:05 PMBrazilian cosmetics maker Natura & Co is pressing government officials, the private sector and local communities to bolster environmental protections in the Amazon after fires this year disrupted its supply chain, its chief executive has said in an interview.Soon to become the world’s fourth-largest beauty group after acquiring rival Avon Products Inc, Natura is advocating sustainable development of the Amazon without antagonizing right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, who has called for greater economic exploitation of the vast region.Natura, which makes many cosmetics using natural additives from the Amazon, convened meetings to improve dialogue between government officials, NGOs and local communities as deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon region hit an 11-year high this year.“The Amazon rainforest is too big for an individual actor alone to have the capacity for change,” Ferreira said.Last week, Natura publicly backed the Health and Happiness Project, expressing concern about a state police raid against the NGO amid a probe of a recent rash of forest fires.Natura is also faced with operational challenges as some of its suppliers in the Amazon, mostly nut producers, were affected by the fires, according to Ferreira. “Luckily, we were able to compensate for shortages by using our extensive network of 4,500 families in the Amazon region,” he said.Natura’s ties with the Amazon can be traced to 1999 when it started working with local families to explore Brazil’s biodiversity in a sustainable way. The company partners with 37 communities supplying dozens of ingredients.

5:48 PMBrazil's negotiators already face a tough job at United Nations climate talks, given anger at President Jair Bolsonaro's stance on the Amazon, but it has become doubly difficult as they are in the dark on their own government's aims. The right-wing leader has become a target for environmental lobbyists since Amazon's destruction surged to an 11-year high and terrible fires raged in August, with Bolsonaro's policies encouraging deforesters and cowing environmental enforcers.Yet as if that was not enough, Brazil's technical negotiators at the United Nations talks in Spain on Monday are disconnected from political leaders and unclear on their goals, two people familiar with the matter said. That means the negotiators could reach a deal that would be disavowed by government leaders. "Really what Brazil will do at the conference is anybody's guess," one of the sources told Reuters.Adding to the confusion, Bolsonaro loyalist and Environment Minister Ricardo Salles has turned up in Madrid a week early to attend the full, two-week conference rather than just the second stage with fellow ministers from other nations. "Only he knows what he's doing there," another source said.As home to most of the vast Amazon rainforest that serves as a bulwark against global warming, Brazil is always a major player at environmental talks and has often been a broker between developed and developing nations. But its widely-publicized backsliding on domestic protections has changed that, and Brazil's official delegation in Madrid no longer includes environmental lobby groups whose credentials it traditionally sponsored.Once swelled by activists, Brazil's delegation now has government officials only, according to two Brazilian former attendees who are participating in this year's event but under different credentials. Read more.

5:36 PMBrazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has claimed that Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio financed fires being set in the Amazon rainforest, without presenting any evidence, the right-wing leader's latest broadside in casting blame over forest fires that have generated international concern.Bolsonaro appeared to be commenting on social media postings claiming that the environmental organization the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) had paid for images taken by volunteer firefighters that it then supposedly used to solicit donations, including a USD 500,000 contribution from DiCaprio.“This Leonardo DiCaprio is a cool guy, right? Giving money to torch the Amazon,” Bolsonaro said on Friday during brief remarks in front of the presidential residence.The WWF has denied receiving a donation from DiCaprio or obtaining photos from the firefighters. DiCaprio has also denied having donated to the WWF.

3:29 PMA Brazilian judge ruled to free four volunteer firefighters jailed on accusations they had set fires in the Amazon rainforest to drum up donations, according to court documents. The firefighters operate in the Alter do Chao region in the northern Amazonian state of Para which saw a surge in forest fires earlier this year. Para state civil police arrested the men on Tuesday as a "preventive" measure while they continued to investigate the cause of the fires, raiding the office of a separate nongovernmental organization called the Health and Happiness Project in the same operation.Police said the Alter do Chao Fire Brigade took pictures and videos of the fires they set and used them to defraud donors, including one who gave 300,000 reais ($71,489.85) to the group. Politicians and other NGOs had fiercely criticized the arrest and the raid, saying it was part of a concerted attempt by the government to harass environmental groups.After the number of fires in Brazil's Amazon hit their highest point since 2010 in August, right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro suggested that NGOs could be setting them.Scientists and activists, however, blame land speculators, farmers, and ranchers for setting the fires to clear land for agricultural use, saying that deforesters are being emboldened by Bolsonaro's rhetoric promoting development over preservation.

2:19 PMIn a report released recently, Amnesty International emphasized on how illegal cattle farming is driving the destruction of Amazon Rainforest in Brazil. The report says about 66 percent of the forest deforested between 1988 and 2014 has been converted to grazing pasture. According to the report, the number of cattle in Amazon region has increased more than 20 percent with 86 million of Brazil's cows currently in the rainforest.President @jairbolsonaro—protect and respect the rights of people living in the forest. End illegal cattle farming in Brazil’s Amazon. pic.twitter.com/B60eao4T92 — Amnesty International (@amnesty) November 26, 2019The report by Amnesty also brings to light some shocking findings about illegal land seizures on Indigenous peoples' territories in Brazil's Amazon. Read the full report here

1:23 PMBrazilian farmers risk losing part of the European market for soy products estimated at $5 billion per year if they push to scrap a so-called soy moratorium that restricts grain traders from buying oilseed from areas in the Amazon that have been deforested. "This farmers' movement can be perceived as a challenge," Nathalie Lecocq, director-general of FEDIOL, the group representing the European Union vegetable oil and meal industry said. "This (soy) market could be put at risk if the Amazon Soy Moratorium was questioned or suspended," said Lecocq.Aprosoja, the main group representing Brazilian soy growers, has decided to oppose the moratorium because it says landowners in the Amazon region are entitled by Brazil's Forest Code to clear up to 20% of the land for agricultural activities. The Soy Moratorium applies to land in the Amazon that was cleared after 2008.Farmers' move to end the policy also found support in the Brazilian government. Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina described the moratorium as "absurd". Bartolomeu Braz Pereira, head of Aprosoja, said the moratorium is not in accordance with national legislation that allows some agricultural activities in the Amazon.

2:39 PMMunduruku indigenous people led by 15 tribal chiefs complained about increased illegal mining on their reservation lands in the Amazon rainforest. They also urged the Brazillian government not to restart plans to build hydroelectric dams on the Tapajos river that runs through their ancestral lands and is one of the largest clear water tributaries of the Amazon.The 50 Munduruku, including children, took a week to get to Brasilia by bus to present their complaints to the head of Brazil's indigenous affairs agency Funai, Marcelo Xavier, the group said.Read More: Amazon tribe demands Bolsonaro stop mining on reservations, hydro dams

12-02-2020 01:18:00 PM

Brazil's national force to fight deforestation amid concerns of another spike in 2020

Brazil has authorized its national public security force to support efforts to fight deforestation in the Amazon, amid worries that 2020 could see another surge in the destruction of the world's largest rainforest. Justice Minister Sergio Moro approved the security force, composed of police with special military-style training, to support operations carried out by environmental agency Ibama in Para state through the end of the year, according to the official government gazette.

Para is Brazil's second-largest rainforest state and sits along the so-called arc of deforestation that encircles the Amazon and is rapidly penetrating deeper into the forest.

The announcement comes as scientists, environmental enforcement agents, and official statistics point toward another potential spike in deforestation this year, after soaring to an 11-year high in 2019. Read more.

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12-02-2020 01:14:17 PM

Bolsonaro proposes new bill to allow several projects on formerly protected land

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro proposed a new bill Wednesday that would allow mining, farming, and hydroelectric power projects on formerly protected land in the world's largest rainforest, saying: "I hope this dream... comes true."

He further stoked controversy by naming a former Evangelical missionary to head the government department responsible for protecting isolated indigenous groups in Brazil, which is home to at least 100 uncontacted tribes, more than any other country. Read more.

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25-01-2020 01:14:49 PM

Brazil's indigenous planning to take Bolsonaro to court over 'racism'

Brazil's indigenous planning to take Bolsonaro to court over 'racism'

The main organization representing Brazil's 300 indigenous tribes said on Friday it would sue far-right President Jair Bolsonaro for racism after he said indigenous people were "evolving" and becoming more human.

"We need to put a stop to this perverse man," Sonia Guajajara, leader of the Association of Indigenous Peoples (APIB), wrote on Twitter. "APIB will go to court against Jair Bolsonaro for the crime of racism."

Racism is considered a serious crime in Brazil and can carry a sentence of up to five years.

The controversial comments, the latest in a series of presidential outbursts on tribes living in the vast Amazon rainforest, came in a video posted on social media on Thursday. "The Indian has changed, he is evolving and becoming more and more, a human being like us," Bolsonaro said. "What we want is to integrate him into society so he can own his land."

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16-01-2020 06:54:12 PM

Colombia seeks suggestions from indigenous Amazon tribes to fight deforestation

Colombia seeks suggestions from indigenous Amazon tribes to fight deforestation

Colombia is asking indigenous Amazon tribes to suggest ways to spend more than $7 million available to fight deforestation, the nation's environment minister said on Wednesday, part of an international effort to protect the threatened rainforest.

Involving native tribal communities is critical to saving the Amazon, which in Colombia covers about 26 million hectares (100,387 square miles), said Environment Minister Ricardo Lozano at a news conference.

The more than $7 million on offer to Colombia's Amazon indigenous tribes is part of hundreds of millions of dollars provided by Norway, Germany, and Britain to a United Nations-backed anti-deforestation effort called REDD+ that provides funds to countries for lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

READ MORE ON : indigenous Amazon tribes
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13-01-2020 06:24:54 PM

Amazon forest fires rose sharply in 2019: INPE

The number of fires in the Amazon rainforest grew 30.5% in 2019 from the previous year, according to data released by space research agency INPE on Wednesday.

According to INPE, the number of fires detected in the Amazon region was 89,178 in 2019 compared with 68,345 fires in 2018. Although the number of fires rose, it was still below the historic average of 109,630 fires in the Amazon each year.

INPE's fire monitoring program also identified rising number of fires last year in other Brazilian ecosystems such as Pantanal and Cerrado. Brazil and Bolivia struggled to curb massive forest fires in 2019.

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24-12-2019 02:23:09 PM

New study raises concerns over regrowth of Amazon

The regrowth of Amazonian forests following deforestation may happen at a much slower rate than previously thought, according to a new study. The research, published in the journal Ecology, monitored forest regrowth over two decades and shows that climate change, and the wider loss of forests, could be hampering regrowth in the Amazon.

Based on the findings, the researchers, including those from Lancaster University in the UK, predict there could be significant impacts for climate change predictions. They reasoned this could be because the ability of secondary forests to soak up carbon from the atmosphere may have been over-estimated.

Read More: Amazon forest regrowth happening much slower than thought: Study

READ MORE ON : Amazon forest regrowth
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21-12-2019 06:44:00 PM

China and Brazil cooperate to monitor Amazon rainforest from space

China and Brazil cooperate to monitor Amazon rainforest from space

An Earth observation satellite jointly developed by China and Brazil was launched into space on Friday under a bilateral program seen as a template for broader cooperation among BRICS nations. The China-Brazil Earth Resource Satellite-4A was launched on a Long March-4B rocket in the northern Chinese province of Shanxi, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The CBERS-4A will support the Brazilian government’s monitoring of the Amazon rainforest and changes in the country’s environment, according to Xinhua.

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17-12-2019 06:08:25 PM

Deforestation continue to increase at alarming levels in Amazon

Deforestation continue to increase at alarming levels in Amazon

Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon in November surged by 104 percent compared to the same month in 2018, according to official data released Saturday. The 563 square kilometers (217 square miles) deforested that month is also the highest number for any November since 2015, according to Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE), which provides official data on deforestation.

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12-12-2019 05:12:55 PM

British musician Sting awarded for his work with Rainforest Fund

British musician Sting awarded for his work with Rainforest Fund

British musician Sting was awarded an international prize on Tuesday for his work to protect the Amazon rainforest and its indigenous inhabitants where a battle over land is becoming more deadly with a spate of killings in recent days. The Global Citizen Prize was given to the 17-time Grammy-award singer-songwriter as part of his work with the Rainforest Fund, a charitable foundation he co-founded with his wife, Trudie Styler, in 1989 to support indigenous people.

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12-12-2019 05:00:24 PM

Norway, Germany, and Britain commit $366 million to Colombia's Amazon

Norway, Germany, and Britain have said that they would spend up to $366 million over the next five years to help Colombia reduce deforestation in its vast Amazon rainforest.

The three nations have backed Colombia's efforts since to preserve forest areas covering almost 60 million hectares since 2015, with about $180 million invested so far. "The renewal of the declaration is a recognition of Colombia's ability to reverse the deforestation trend, having achieved a 10% reduction in deforestation in 2018 compared to 2017," the countries said in a joint statement.

Colombia has set ambitious goals to curb deforestation, including reducing the annual loss of natural forests to 155,000 hectares (380,000 acres) or less by 2022 and 100,000 hectares or less by 2025. If successful, this would mean a reduction in Colombia's deforestation rates by 50% compared to 2018.

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