Leonardo DiCaprio Pledges $5M to Fight Amazon Fires
"The lungs of the Earth are in flames. The Brazilian Amazon — home to 1 million Indigenous people and 3 million species — has been burning for more than two weeks straight," DiCaprio wrote in an Instagram post announcing the donation, as The Guardian reported.
The funds come through Earth Alliance, a new charity formed by DiCaprio and philanthropists Laurene Powell Jobs and Brian Sheth in July to "help address the urgent threats to our planet's life support systems," CNN reported. The actor's previous Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation merged with the new organization.
Earth Alliance announced its Amazon Forest Fund on Twitter Sunday.
#EarthAlliance has formed an emergency Amazon Forest Fund with $5m to focus critical resources for indigenous communities and other local partners working to protect the biodiversity of the Amazon against the surge of fires. Learn more & donate: https://t.co/uG2WoEoKqx pic.twitter.com/IbcubQCO4v— Earth Alliance (@earthalliance) August 25, 2019
"These funds will be distributed directly to local partners and the indigenous communities protecting the Amazon, the incredible diversity of wildlife that lives there, and the health of the planet overall," the organization wrote.
Funds will be divided between five local organizations: Instituto Associação Floresta Protegida (Kayapo), Coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB), Instituto Kabu (Kayapo), Instituto Raoni (Kayapo) and Instituto Socioambiental (ISA).
The donation comes after a widespread outcry following the news last week that there are a record number of fires burning in the Amazon, which is an important sink for carbon dioxide. Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE) said the number of fires had increased 83 percent compared with this time last year. Scientists and environmental advocates say that the fires were sparked by deforestation, as farmers clear trees for planting or cattle grazing. Such practices have been encouraged by right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has promised to open more of the Amazon to mining and agriculture.
The G7 countries also pledged $22 million to help Brazil fight the fires at a summit this weekend, as French President Emmanuel Macron announced Monday, but the Bolsonaro government rejected the funds, Al Jazeera reported.
"'[P]erhaps those resources are more relevant to reforest Europe," Bolsonaro's Chief of Staff Onyx Lorenzoni told Brazil's Globo news site Monday, according to Al Jazeera. "Macron cannot even avoid a predictable fire in a church that is part of the world's heritage, and he wants to give us lessons for our country?" Lorenzoni said.
In addition to the G7 pledge, the UK had promised $12 million to fight the fires and Canada had promised $11 million. It is not clear if Brazil also rejected those offers.
While Bolsonaro's government rejects international funding, it has also directed its own resources away from the environment.
"The funding for Brazil's environment agency has gone down by 95% this year, it [has] essentially gutted [a] large part of the actions that have been put in by the agricultural ministry," University of Oxford ecosystem science professor Yadvinder Malhi told the BBC's Today program, as BBC News reported. "So the real thing is to look at the political direction of governance in the Amazon that's changing under the new Brazilian government."