Amazon focus of mounting concern

August 22, 2019 — Reduced protection of the Amazon by Brazil's Bolsonaro government has led to sharply higher deforestation rates in 2019 and a dramatic increase in forest fires, as reported by many news organziations including the BBC and the National Geographic. A recent cover story in The Economist proclaimed "The Amazon is approaching an irreversible tipping point".  We quote from the accompanying "leader" (editorial), titled "Deathwatch in the Amazon", at the end of this news brief.

There is a ray of light in this bleak scenario. The Kayapo Indigenous people, in partnership with ICFC and others, continue to protect 10 million hectares (and area twice the size of Nova Scotia) from illegal logging,  goldmining, and clearing for agriculture. For decades, the Kayapo have been effective at protecting what may be the largest single tract of tropical forest anywhere in the world. Key to their success in this lawless region of high deforestation has been territorial surveillance and guard posts located on rivers and other entry points to Kayapo lands. We have stepped up our efforts this year and need your help to build additional guard posts to meet the increased challenges resulting from the lack of government enforcement. Thank you for whatever help you can provide!

Nowhere are the stakes higher than in the Amazon basin—and not just because it contains 40% of Earth’s rainforests and harbours 10-15% of the world’s terrestrial species. South America’s natural wonder may be perilously close to the tipping-point beyond which its gradual transformation into something closer to steppe cannot be stopped or reversed, even if people lay down their axes. Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, is hastening the process—in the name, he claims, of development. The ecological collapse his policies may precipitate would be felt most acutely within his country’s borders, which encircle 80% of the basin—but would go far beyond them, too. It must be averted.  — The Economist, August 1, 2019

Photo credit: Reuters

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