We are edging closer to an “ecological calamity” in the Amazon rainforest and a vote in the Brazilian Senate has pushed us closer to the brink. Yesterday it voted to approve destructive changes to the laws governing forest protection – called the Forest Code - that would open up the Amazon rainforest to rampant destruction. But it is not too late. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff will have the opportunity to veto the changes - you can ask her to protect the Amazon and veto the new Forest Code.
Losing the Amazon rainforest to further deforestation would be an unimaginable loss for our planet and life on it, and the approval of this new Forest Code in Brazil would bring us one step closer to this terrible reality.
Not only is the Amazon home to one out of every ten species on the planet and important to the livelihoods of local communities, but it also functions as a carbon storage system, which can help us avoid some of the worst consequences of climate change. If deforestation and degradation of the Amazon continues increasing at the current pace the damage could actually transform the Amazon into part of the problem instead of part of the solution. The emissions from Amazon destruction contribute to a feedback cycle that will not only make climate change worse, by increasing warming trends, but cause further damage to the remaining forest, as forest fires in the region would intensify. The new Forest Code would bring us closer to this vicious cycle. Some scientists are already discussing the potential of losing the Amazon completely – imagine a world with no Amazon rainforest.
It won’t happen, because we will all keep demanding real protection for the rainforest until we get it. We know that a future free from destruction is possible, and we’ll condemn any attempts to destroy that future for the short-term profit of a few – the new Forest Code is one such attempt.
This past year the agricultural lobby pushed hard inside Brazil to weaken forest protection, many of the people pushing for these changes have been fined themselves for illegal deforestation. The result is the new Forest Code – it reduces the size of areas under protection, pardons people who deforested illegally and weakens enforcement of protection laws.
The text that has now been approved by the Senate is really bad; after the vote, Greenpeace Amazon campaign director Paulo Adario reemphasized that it opens up the rainforest to further deforestation. He also pointed out that scientists and the public prosecutors office have already said that the new Forest Code is not good for the environment and will be challenged.
There is still time to turn this situation around. You can send President Dilma an email right now and make it clear that she has a duty to protect the Amazon rainforest and veto the new Forest Code. All of us, including President Dilma, have a stake in the survival of this amazing ecosystem.
We’d like to keep you updated on this situation as it develops, so please keep in touch and make sure you are following us on Facebook and Twitter.
In the meantime if you are looking for more information, here is the new Forest Code explained in 1 minute and 30 seconds:
Update: the final voting on the new Forest Code has been postponed until 2012. This means there is more time for President Dilma to hear the worldwide demand to protect the Amazon!