Amazon rainforest near the BR163 Highway in Brazil
Today is World Environment Day
and the Government of Brazil celebrated by dancing to an old tune.
In a press conference held today in Brasilia, the government rereleased old Amazon deforestation figures and late plans to fight climate change in an attempt to paint a picture that all is well in the Amazon.
This is far from the truth.
The Government presented the figures for deforestation in the Amazon between August 2011 and July 2012, a record low, 4.571 km2. However, this low came after a long period of wholesale destruction in the Amazon.
Instead of releasing old news, the Brazilian government could have used World Environment Day to explain how they will deal with the current increase in deforestation trends, as recently released data based on satellite images shows.
Or why conflicts with indigenous communities are multiplying, violence due to forest land dispute is on the rise and slave labour remain a sad reality in cattle ranching and pig iron producing states of Brazil.
Dilma’s administration aims for the world to see Brazil as a leader in ‘sustainability’. She wants the world to believe that promises, development and domestic reforms have eradicated violence as a major issue in the Amazon.
Well, here is a bit of the reality:
Deforestation trends are on the rise – trends for the period August 2012 to April 2013 show an increase of 15% compared to the previous year.
Cattle ranching and pig iron production still have slavery-like working conditions. According to the Brazilian Ministry of Employment, in 2012, from a total 2750 of workers that were liberated from ‘slavery’, 1250 were found in the legal Amazon. Most of these workers were working at cattle farms and producing pig iron.
From the 452 government development projects currently underway in Brazil, almost half directly impact indigenous lands. Illegal logging and ranching continues to encroach on indigenous lands, and conflict and violence is prevalent in the Amazon region. An average of 50 murders of indigenous peoples occur annually in Brazil.
This is not the music the Brazilian government wants the world to hear as they parade out their old victories. Reality however, will keep turning the volume up.
Greenpeace is calling for a zero deforestation law in Brazil. Add your voice.
Daniela Montalto is the Project Leader for Greenpeace's Amazon Campaign.