The near future seems bleak as Brazil’s Amazon Forest, also known as ‘The Lungs of the World’, are crumbling one tree at a time. Development at the cost of the environment? By Bayar Jain
It comes as no surprise why the European Space Agency recently declared June 2019 as the hottest month in recorded history.
According to Brazil’s former 2012 New Forest Code landowners of the Brazilian Amazon were required to permanently maintain 80% of the land as forests. Although it was rarely ever implemented, it’s existence on paper paved way for future hope. Now, more than half of this forest lies in a part of the country where Bolsonaro assumed power earlier this year. During campaigning for president-ship, he promised to relax laws and ease the use of forest land for the greater good of agriculture and development. This promise of his earned him brownie points among agricultural businesses and small farmers who feel the highly regulated environmental laws hinder commercial growth opportunities. After having won the elections, Bolsonaro has already begun relaxing norms for dams, mines and the likes. He has even drastically cut down the budget for the Brazilian Environment and Renewable Institute.
A direct impact of his moves is already visible. As per data realised by the Brazil’s National Institute of Space Research (INPE) – a central agency that monitors the Amazon along with the rest of the county – Amazon lost 769.1 sq-km of forest in June alone. This is 60% more than the deforestation levels that took place same time last year. For some perspective, imagine the whole city of Mumbai and its neighbouring regions getting destroyed in a month; close to one football field per minute.
This is a cause of worry for people around the world, not just Brazilians. The Amazon rainforest produces nearly 20% of the world’s oxygen. It is home to more than 40,000 plant species, 1,300 birds, 427 mammals, 378 reptiles, and more than 400 and 3,000 amphibians and freshwater fish, respectively. Thousands, if not more, species are yet to be discovered in this natural wonder. With people in power focusing on development, maybe it’s time for us to readjust our lenses ourselves.