Brazil’s Forests Are At Risk of Disappearing Before Its People

Brazil’s Forests Are At Risk of Disappearing Before Its People

As scientists warn Brazil’s rainforest is nearing a point of irreversible decline, Lula makes ambitious deforestation pledge

From left: Lula, Bolsonaro, and Jair Bolsonaro at last month’s COP24 in Poland. | Photo: Pablo Cantú/AFP/Getty

Brazil’s forest is so vast, and its ecological services so powerful, that it’s at risk of disappearing before its people.

When Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, was sworn in for her second term this past weekend, she promised to “redraw the map of the world” to create a “Green Brazil” and “restore a sustainable forest for the Brazilian people.”

“The truth is that we cannot do this without Brazil’s forests,” Rousseff said during her campaign.

But she was also aware of the scale of the task, and said she intended to reach it. On the campaign trail, Rousseff said she would be “the president who will make Brazil’s forests great again, and not just for the forest products they sell but the forest services that they provide for society.”

She was referring to Brazil’s forests’ role in cleaning the air and water and keeping the earth cool and dry, and making homes out of the Amazon—and all the air and water they suck in.

Brazil has more rainforest than anyone else on the planet. It has the world’s largest tropical rainforest, spanning a tropical belt that stretches from the Brazilian coast south to Argentina. The rainforest contains more than half of Earth’s species—over a trillion of them—and holds more than 10 percent of all species on the planet. More than half of the world’s population depends on the rainforest for its livelihoods.

But over the past 40 years, it has lost as much as 40 percent of its area due to environmental degradation, such as logging and mining.

And in 2019, the Amazon’s overall loss is expected to be nearly 10 percent.

All of this is making climate change more dangerous for the planet. And as the world looks for ways to mitigate greenhouse emissions and adapt to a changing climate, the Amazon is also facing

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