‘There Will Be an Increase in Deforestation’: Brazil’s New President Signs Order Endangering Amazon and Indigenous Rights
In his first day in office, right wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro realized the fears of environmentalists and Indigenous communities. They knew he would use his time in office to increase the access of extractive industries in the Amazon Rainforest. Within hours of taking power Tuesday, Bolsonaro transferred responsibility for recognizing Indigenous lands to the ministry of agriculture, The New York Times reported.
"There will be an increase in deforestation and violence against indigenous people," executive coordinator of the Articulation of Indigenous People of Brazil (Apib) Dinaman Tuxá warned, according to The Guardian. "Indigenous people are defenders and protectors of the environment."
Bolsonaro’s first move against Amazon protection: transferring indigenous reserve demarcation to agriculture minist… https://t.co/FtlKL5DWsR— Dom Phillips (@Dom Phillips)1546452871.0
Deforestation is already on the rise in Brazil, which saw its highest rate of tree clearing in a decade this past year. At the same time, during the last eight years the Brazilian government has reduced funding for Indigenous groups and prioritized the desires of industries that want greater access to the rainforest, The New York Times reported. The government has also slowed the pace at which it recognizes Indigenous lands in recent years.
Bolsonaro's new order ups the ante by making the agriculture ministry responsible for the "identification, delimitation, demarcation and registration of lands traditionally occupied by indigenous people," Reuters reported. It also gives that ministry control over the management of public forests and the Brazilian Forestry Service, which is in charge of sustainable forest use. The order will expire in 120 days if it is not ratified by Congress.
Bolsonaro defended his order on Twitter Wednesday.
"Less than a million people live in these isolated places in Brazil, where they are exploited and manipulated by NGOs," Bolsonaro wrote, according to a translation provided by Reuters. "Let us together integrate these citizens and value all Brazilians."
Mais de 15% do território nacional é demarcado como terra indígena e quilombolas. Menos de um milhão de pessoas viv… https://t.co/j1BfcyBlxg— Jair M. Bolsonaro (@Jair M. Bolsonaro)1546438760.0
However, anthropologist Leila Sílvia Burger Sotto-Maior, who used to work for the country's National Indian Foundation, which formerly oversaw the certification of protected lands, told The New York Times that the order was "a clear affront to the Constitution."
Brazil's 1988 Constitution was ratified after 21 years of military dictatorship, and attempted to enshrine protections for Indigenous communities and other marginalized groups after decades of oppression and exploitation. During the dictatorship, the government had seen Indigenous communities as a threat to economic opportunity and had tried to force them into the rest of Brazilian society, rather than recognizing their rights to live in their ancestral lands. The Constitution, in contrast, affirmed those rights.
"There's fear, there's pain," Burger told The New York Times of the recent order. "This feels like defeat, failure."
Bolsonaro also signed an order giving his government more power over NGOs, Reuters reported.
The order gives the office of the Government Secretary, Carlos Alberto Dos Santos Cruz, temporary power to "supervise, coordinate, monitor and accompany the activities and actions of international organizations and non-governmental organizations in the national territory," Reuters reported.
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At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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