A Partial Victory for the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil

rainforest-destruction-Brazil-AmazonIn April, the Brazilian Congress passed a dangerous forestry bill that would give loggers and farmers the right to unconditionally demolish large areas of the rainforest. The future prosperity and existence of the rainforest lay in the hands of President Dilma Rousseff, who could veto the bill. Thankfully on May 25th, 2012 the president vetoed the bill and rightfully so, because 79 percent of Brazilians did not support the bill.  It was a wise move to ax the bill and not the rainforest, not only because of the obvious environmental implications, but politically. President Dilma and Brazil will host the world’s biggest environmental summit and if she were to open to summit as the president who allowed for the destruction of the remaining rainforest, resentment for her administration would erupt not only in Brazil, but on a global scale.  

The Amazonian rainforest is key to life on earth. People get 20 percent of our oxygen from the rainforest and the rainforest is essential to lessening the effects of global climate change. Over the last few decades the rainforest has been significantly reduced, because of farming, development, and industry. Although in the last ten years the rate of deforestation has declined significantly.  The rainforest experienced a 78 percent decline of deforestation between 2004 and 2011. The global community, including Brazil, has worked on forestry law and enforcement and satellite monitoring to ensure the continued recuperation and sustainability of the rainforest and its many inhabitants.

If the president passed the bill it would allow for massive clear-cutting and amnesty for loggers for all past deforestation crimes. The Amazon rainforest would be entirely destroyed in Brazil, which would in turn set a precedent for other countries to allow for rainforest destruction. Thanks to the rejection of bills like this, the rainforest can continue to exist and flourish.

While the vetoing of this bill is a victory for the rainforest, the challenges the Amazonian rainforest will face in the coming years are far from over. Even with support of Brazilian Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira, President Rousseff allowed for some parts of the bill to pass. Because Brazil is a rapidly developing country, President Rousseff faces continual pressure to exploit resources in order to lift millions out of devastating poverty. Yet, there is no proof that economic growth requires deforestation. If anything, the destruction of the rainforest will cause more problems for not only Brazilians, but also the world community as a whole.

Not only that, the agricultural lobby is very powerful, as it is in most countries. Dilma, like many world leaders, was elected with help and support from the agricultural industry. Today, they put ever-increasing pressure on her to cut down the rainforest for their profit.  In Brazil the battle has gotten so intense and ugly that activists have been murdered, intimidated, and silenced.

The need for public pressure is still crucial to the continued survival and health of the rainforest. The battle is far from won and requires continuous support and efforts to protect and preserve the environment. Avaaz is hosting a petition that not only helped prompt President Dilma’s veto, but will continue to gather support in order to promote support for the issues as hand, namely protecting the rainforest in Brazil. The exact details of President Dilma’s revised bill has not yet been made public, but Environmental Minister says that the government wanted to avoid diminishing protected areas and other ecosystems. Loopholes could still make it into the final bill, allowing for the reduction of mandatory reforestation and other devastating implications. The new proposals still affords less protection than the currently existing regulations, so action is essential in protecting the environment and preventing more deforestation and the murder and intimidation of environmental activists. To ensure the interests of the rainforest are still protected please sign the Avaaz Petition.

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