Amazon fires could be worse than last year

14 August 2020 (799 visits)

The international non-governmental environmental organization Greenpeace has released footage showing evidence of devastating burning in the Amazon basin. Filmed in southern Brazil’s Mato Grosso region, the video shows fires burning over a wide area.

The video was filmed last month, as the traditional “fire season” appeared to have been launched with even greater intensity than last year, when record levels of deforestation through burning were recorded.


Every year across South America’s Amazon forests, which are shared by eight countries (Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana), when the dry season arrives local farmers and cattle ranchers burn large tracts of forest in order to expand their agricultural and livestock frontiers, once the soils in areas already cleared of pristine rainforest vegetation have been exhausted through intensive exploitation.


But since the government of Jair Bolsonaro came to power in January 2019, Brazil has seen the introduction and implementation of policies that have led to record destruction, and those policies appear set to continue for at least the entire first four-year term of the country’s rightwing leader. This means that, far from achieving its goals under the terms of the Paris climate accord, Brazil is now on course to distance itself ever further from that critical global environmental initiative.


Brazilian Greenpeace campaigners present on the flight over Mato Grosso last month expressed their shock at the sheer scale of the burning being perpetrated this year, as the Brazilian federal authorities continue to dismantle environmental laws once the envy of other South American countries.


Almost sixty percent of the Amazon basin lies within Brazil’s borders, and as the continent’s biggest economy the example it sets is followed inevitably by other countries in the region. Now, with the 2020 dry season at its height, many commentators fear that the government in Brasilia is pushing ahead with its populist anti-environmental agenda while the world is focused on the global health emergency.


In the Amazon basin of southeastern Peru, as the owners and operators of a government-authorized eco-lodge and private conservation area, we are forced to remain constantly vigilant against the many threats to the forest we have been helping to conserve for almost thirty years. Such threats arrive in many forms, including land invasion, illegal logging for tropical hardwoods, and illicit and highly destructive gold mining operations that pollute rivers and lakes.


While we wait for our guests to return, at Tambopata Ecolodge we continue to work hard to conserve one small corner of the Amazon basin, and to set an example based upon conservation and sustainable ecotourism that we hope will be followed by other conservation- and ecologically-minded companies and individuals in Peru and other parts of the world.   



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In Peru ecotourism has helped make it possible to create national reserves and save the forests of the Amazon basin from destruction. By implementing our ecotourism-based conservation model (see our video), we are ensuring the forests will be around for future generations to appreciate. Pioneering projects like Tambopata Ecolodge, which was established in 1991, serve as a conservation model, by showing how responsible ecotourism can support conservation initiatives.
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