Brazil's forests

By Rhett A. Butler [Last update August 14, 2020]

Brazil holds about one-third of the world's remaining primary tropical rainforests, including about 60% the Amazon rainforest. Terrestrially speaking, it is also the most biodiverse country on Earth, with more than 34,000 described species of plants, 1,813 species of birds, 1,022 amphibians, 648 mammals, and 814 reptiles.

About 80% of Brazil's tropical forest cover is found in the Amazon Basin, a mosaic of ecosystems and vegetation types including rainforests (the vast majority), seasonal forests, deciduous forests, flooded forests, and savannas, including the woody cerrado. This region has experienced an exceptional extent of forest loss over the past two generations—an area exceeding 760,000 square kilometers, or about 19 percent of its total surface area of 4 million square kilometers, has been cleared in the Amazon since 1970, when only 2.4 percent of the Amazon's forests had been lost. The increase in Amazon deforestation in the early 1970s coincided with the construction of the Trans-Amazonian Highway, which opened large forest areas to development by settlers and commercial interests. In more recent years, growing populations in the Amazon region, combined with increased viability of agricultural operations, have caused a further rise in deforestation rates.

Natural forest in the Brazilian Amazon (Amazonia) by year

This data excludes extensive areas degraded by fires and selective logging, nor forest regrowth, which by one Brazilian government estimate occurs on about 20% of deforested areas. The area of Amazon forest degraded each year in Brazil is thought to be roughly equivalent to the amount of forest cleared. Forest degradation is significant because degraded forests are more likely to be cleared in the future. Degraded forest is also more susceptible to fires.

Why is the Amazon rainforest disappearing?

Historically the majority of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon was the product of subsistence farmers, but in recent decades this has changed, with a greater proportion of forest clearing driven by large landowners and corporations. The majority of deforestation in the region can be attributed to land clearing for pasture by commercial and speculative interests.

In the early phase of this transition, Brazilian deforestation was strongly correlated to the economic health of the country: the decline in deforestation from 1988-1991 nicely matched the economic slowdown during the same period, while the rocketing rate of deforestation from 1993-1998 paralleled Brazil's period of rapid economic growth. During lean times, ranchers and developers do not have the cash to expand their pasturelands and operations, while the government lacks the budget flexibility to underwrite highways and colonization programs and grant tax breaks and subsidies to agribusiness, logging, and mining interests.

But this dynamic shifted in the mid-2000s, when the link between deforestation and the broader Brazilian economy began to wane. Between 2004 and 2012 the annual rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon fell 80% to the lowest levels recorded since annual record keeping began in the late 1980s. This decline occurred at the same time that Brazil's economy expanded 40 percent and agricultural output surged.

Tree cover loss and primary forest loss in the Brazilian Amazon according to analysis of satellite data by Hansen et al 2020
Comparison of data on deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, 2001-2019, between official Brazilian government data and Hansen et al 2020.

Why did Amazon deforestation decline?

There are several reasons commonly cited for the decline in Brazil's deforestation rate between 2004 and 2012.

One of the most important active measures was the launch of the Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Deforestation in the Legal Amazon (PPCDAm) in 2004. PPCDAm aimed to reduce deforestation rates continuously and facilitate conditions that support a transition towards a sustainable economic development model in the region. PPCDAm had three main components: land tenure and spatial planning, environmental monitoring and control, and supporting sustainable production.

These components resulted in increased enforcement of environmental laws; improved forest monitoring by satellite, which enabled law enforcement to take action; new incentives for utilizing already deforested lands; and expanded protected areas and indigenous reserves. A byproduct of PPCDAm was heightened sensitivity to environmental criticism among private sector companies and emerging awareness of the values of ecosystem services afforded by the Amazon.

Other factors also played a part in the decline in deforestation, including macroeconomic trends like a stronger Brazilian currency, which reduced the profitability of export-driven agriculture; prioritization of non-rainforest areas like the adjacent cerrado ecosystem for agribusiness expansion; and increased diversification in the Brazilian economy as a whole.

Amazon rainforest in Brazil. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

Why has progress in reducing Amazon deforestation stalled?

Progress in reducing deforestation stalled after 2012 and forest loss has been trending upward since. There is debate over why this is the case, but some researchers argue that Brazil achieved about as much as it could through law enforcement and other punitive measures ("the stick" in the proverbial "the carrot and stick" approach). Reducing deforestation further requires sufficient economic incentives ("the carrot") to maintain forests as healthy and productive ecosystems. Put another way, standing forest needs to be made more valuable than clearing it for pasture or crops.

By that line of thought, the political impetus for reducing deforestation began to wane as ranchers, farmers, investors, and land speculators grew tried of fines, threats of legal action, and prohibitions against clearing. Political movements like the ruralistas pushed harder for relation of environmental laws and amnesty for past transgressions. These interests gained momentum when the Temer administration came to power in 2016 and won more clout with the election of Jair Bolsonaro in late 2018. Bolsonaro, who campaigned on the promise to open the Amazon to extractive industries and agribusiness while disparaging environmentalists and indigenous peoples, immediately set about dismantling protections for the Amazon when he took office in January 2019. Deforestation increased sharply thereafter.

Causes of deforestation in the Amazon

In evaluating deforestation in the Amazon, it is important to understand both direct and indirect drivers of forest loss.

Direct drivers of deforestation including conversion of forests for pasture, farmland, and plantations, as well as surface mining, dams that inundate forested areas, and intense fires.

Indirect drivers of deforestation include more subtle factors, like insecure land tenure, corruption, poor law enforcement, infrastructure projects, policies that favor conversion over conservation, and selective logging that create conditions or enable activities that facilitate forest clearing.

Pie chart showing drivers of deforestation in the Amazon
Causes of deforestation in the Amazon, 2001-2013 Share of direct deforestation
Cattle ranching63%
Small-scale agriculture
Includes both subsistence and commercial
Sub-canopy fires often result in degradation, not deforestation
Large-scale industrial agriculture like soy and plantations
Selective logging commonly results in degradation, not deforestation
Mining, urbanization, road construction, dams, etc.


Cattle ranching

Conversion of rainforest for cattle pasture is the single largest driver of deforestation in Brazil. Clearing forest for pasture is the cheapest and easiest way to establish an informal claim to land, which can then be sold on to other parties at a profit. In some parts of the Brazilian Amazon, cleared rainforest land can be worth more than eight times that of land with standing forest. According, cattle ranching is often viewed as a way to speculate on appreciating land prices.

However since 2000, cattle ranching in the Amazon has become increasingly industrialized, meaning that more ranchers are producing cattle to sell commercially. Most of the beef ends up in the domestic market, but secondary products like hides and leather are often exported.

These exports left Brazilian cattle ranchers exposed in the late 2000s when Greenpeace launched a high profile campaign against companies that were sourcing leather and other products from major Brazilian cattle processors. That campaign led major companies to demand zero deforestation cattle. Combined with a crackdown by public prosecutors, the Brazilian cattle industry started to shift substantially toward less damaging practices in late 2009 by signing the "Cattle Agreement", which barred the sourcing of cattle from illegally deforested areas.

However by the mid-2010s investigations revealed that some major cattle producers were circumventing the safeguards established under the Cattle Agreement by laundering cattle through third party ranches. Unlike soy (see below), cattle are highly mobile, making it easy for ranchers to shift livestock clandestinely.

Deforestation for soy in the Brazilian Amazon. The isolated tree is a Brazil nut. Photo by Rhett A. Butler


The model for the Brazilian cattle industry to move toward zero deforestation came from the country's soy industry, which underwent a similar transformation three years earlier. That shift was also initiative by a Greenpeace campaign, which targeted the soy-based chicken feed used by McDonald's in Europe. Within months of that campaign's launch, the largest soy crushers and traders in the Amazon had established a moratorium on buying soy produced via deforestation in the Amazon.


Logging in the Brazilian Amazon remains plagued by poor management, destructive practices, and outright fraud. Vast areas of rainforest are logged -- legally and illegally -- each year. According to government sources and NGOs, the vast majority of logging in the Brazilian Amazon is illegal.

Palm oil

At present, Amazon palm oil is not a major driver of deforestation in Brazil. While there are concerns that it could eventually exacerbate deforestation, there is also a chance that it could replace degraded cattle pasture, boosting economic productivity at a low environmental cost.

Dams, roads, and other infrastructure projects

Brazil's infrastructure spree from the late-2000s to mid-2010s was interrupted by the corruption scandals of the mid-2010s. Many of the scores of dams being built across the Amazon basin were put on hold following the Lava Jato scandal that ensnared senior politicians in several countries and executives at the infrastructure giant Odebrecht. Yet the scandals also helped usher in the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro, which reinvigorated the push to build roads, dams, and mines in the Amazon.

Amazon rainforest in Brazil. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

Conservation in Brazil

While Brazil may be better known for losing its forests, during the 2000s it easily led the world in establishing new protected areas. Those gains were consolidated in 2014, when donors established a trust fund that will underwrite the country's protected areas system through 2039.

Beyond strict protected areas, more than a fifth of the Brazilian Amazon lies within indigenous reservations, which research has shown reduce deforestation even more effectively than national parks. Overall nearly half the Brazilian Amazon is under some form of protection.

Brazil's other forests

While the Amazon rainforest is Brazil's most famous forest, the country also has other types of forest.

The Mata Atlântica or Atlantic Forest is a drier tropical forest that lies along the coast and inland areas to the south of the Amazon. It has been greatly reduced by conversion to agriculture -- especially sugar cane and cattle pasture -- and urbanization. The Mata Atlântica is arguably Brazil's most threatened forest.

Forest loss in Brazil's Mata Atlantica according to National Space Research Institute, INPE

The Pantanal is an inland wetland that borders Paraguay and Bolivia and covers an area of 154,884 square kilometers. It includes a mosaic of forests and flooded grasslands.

The cerrado biome is a tropical grassland that covers 1.9 square kilometers, or approximately 22 percent of the country. It is being rapidly destroyed for agriculture.

The chaco biome is a dry forest ecosystem that extends into Paraguay, Bolivia, and Argentina.

Brazil's tropical forests

Primary forest extentTree cover extent
StateDominant forest biome20012020% losss20012020% losss
AlagoasAtlantic forest35,53734,9331.7%57551851079211.4%
BahiaAtlantic forest1,297,7021,187,3478.5%187766221518773716.5%
CearáAtlantic forest74,39572,5012.5%2974477280712710.0%
Espírito SantoAtlantic forest128,492124,4063.2%1813455167559918.8%
GoiásAtlantic forest / Cerrado388,506328,32915.5%7736542680816313.3%
Mato GrossoAmazon / Cerrado / Chaco39,009,64531,696,95318.7%563962284616815018.7%
Mato Grosso do SulAtlantic forest / Cerrado1,489,0951,356,7178.9%10191243876195312.6%
Minas GeraisAtlantic forest / Cerrado268,244258,6883.6%183574221745008214.0%
ParaíbaAtlantic forest23,76423,5121.1%11214826632639.6%
ParanáAtlantic forest1,044,8811,020,2532.4%7947474734017014.1%
PernambucoAtlantic forest42,72741,0014.0%1563136125875910.7%
Rio de JaneiroAtlantic forest587,724581,3631.1%180539817379223.8%
Rio Grande do NorteAtlantic forest7,3217,2870.5%90943249110611.0%
Rio Grande do SulAtlantic forest / Cerrado24,16624,1460.1%763611273936658.1%
Santa CatarinaAtlantic forest1,205,5901,176,0142.5%6354636603158012.2%
São PauloAtlantic forest1,837,3211,817,0951.1%6560955646900412.1%
SergipeAtlantic forest17,94016,6707.1%54359139572221.5%
TocantinsAmazon / Cerrado1,194,996995,67116.7%11162164845997216.1%


Recent news on Brazil's tropical forests

Reconnecting ‘island habitat’ with wild corridors in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest (Mar 30 2023)
- This three-part Mongabay mini-series examines grassroots forest restoration projects carried out within isolated island ecosystems — whether those islands are surrounded by ocean as on the Big Island of Hawai‘i, or cloud forest mountaintop habitat encircled by lowlands in Costa Rica, or forest patches hemmed in by human development in Brazil.
- Reforestation of degraded island habitat is a first step toward restoring biodiversity made rare by isolation, and to mitigating climate threats. Though limited in size, island habitats can be prime candidates for reforestation because extinctions are typically much higher on isolated habitat islands than in more extensive ecosystems.
- Scientists mostly agree that the larger the forest island habitat, the greater its biodiversity, and the more resilient that forest system will be against climate change. Forests also store more carbon than degraded lands, and add moisture to soil and the atmosphere as a hedge against warming-intensified drought.
- The projects featured in this series are small in size, but if scaled up could become big forest nature-based climate solutions. In this third story, the NGO Saving Nature works to create wild corridors to reconnect fragmented patches of Brazil’s Atlantic Forest.

In central Brazil, mining company ignores Quilombola concerns over gold project (Mar 29 2023)
- Canadian mining company Aura Minerals plans to establish a major gold extraction project in Brazil’s Tocantins state without hearing the Quilombola (slave descendant) community that will be affected by the operations, thus violating their right to free, prior and informed consultation.
- So far, the company has not been transparent toward the community and has not described the potential impacts.
- Meanwhile, Aura Minerals has seen its value rise nearly 700% on the Toronto Stock Exchange between 2019 and 2022 — the best performance among 3,500 listed companies.
- The Quilombola estimate that, in the event of an accident with the company’s dam, the Baião community would be instantly engulfed and would disappear completely, with no chance to react.

Can a new regional pact protect the Amazon from environmental crime? (commentary) (Mar 28 2023)
- Police, prosecutors, money-laundering experts and others convened last week in Brazil to tackle drug and environmental crimes like illegal mining and logging that are growing in scale across the Amazon.
- The group resolved to move law enforcement beyond occasional raids and periodic destruction of machinery used by organized crime syndicates and toward a concerted and pan-Amazonian push for local, regional and global cooperation on law enforcement.
- While acknowledging the increasing scale of these crimes, participants were optimistic: “We are living in a new moment to fight environmental crime and protect the Amazon,” said the newly appointed director for Amazon environmental crime with Brazil’s federal police, for example.
- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily of Mongabay.

Make it local: Deforestation link to less Amazon rainfall tips activism shift (Mar 14 2023)
- A new study supports mounting evidence that deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest correlates with a reduction in regional rainfall.
- Experts say this research reinforces the findings of other studies that claim the Amazon is leaning toward its “tipping point” and the southern regions are gradually becoming drier.
- Environmentalists see this research as an opportunity to reshape conservation activism and policy towards local communities.

Mobilizing Amazon societies to reduce forest carbon emissions and unlock the carbon market (commentary) (Mar 13 2023)
- Brazil could generate $10 billion or more from the global voluntary carbon market over the next four years through the sale of credits from Amazon states’ jurisdictional REDD+ programs; some states are already finalizing long-term purchase agreements.
- This funding would flow to those who are protecting the forest – Indigenous peoples and traditional communities, farmers, businesses, and government agencies – and the prospect of this funding could mobilize collective action to reduce emissions from illegal deforestation and degradation.
- Rapid progress in reducing emissions from Amazon deforestation and forest degradation – which represent half of Brazil’s nation-wide emissions – would also position Brazil to capture significant international funding for its national decarbonization process through the regulated carbon market that is under development through the UN Paris Agreement.
- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily of Mongabay.

Most of ‘top ten’ hotspots for jaguar conservation are in Brazil’s Indigenous territories (Mar 10 2023)
- Jaguars are essential to healthy ecosystems but have been eradicated from almost 50% of their historical range, and by some estimates, only 64,000 individuals remain.
- Brazil is home to half of the world’s jaguars, and a group of researchers has identified the highest-priority protected areas in the Brazilian Amazon for jaguar conservation.
- The top 10 highest-priority protected areas fall primarily across the arc of deforestation in southern and western Brazil, and eight of these are Indigenous territories.
- Researchers say conservation efforts must include strengthened participation of Indigenous peoples and local communities, increased funding and support for protected areas and environmental agencies, and the implementation of more robust environmental policies.

Amazon deforestation linked to reduced Tibetan snows, Antarctic ice loss: Study (Mar 8 2023)
- Earth’s climate is controlled by a complex network of interactions between the atmosphere, oceans, lands, ice and biosphere. Many elements in this system are now being pushed toward tipping points, beyond which changes become self-sustaining, with the whole Earth system potentially shifting to a new steady state.
- A recent study analyzed 40 years of air temperature measurements at more than 65,000 locations to investigate how changes in one region rippled through the climate system to affect temperatures in other parts of the globe. Computer models then simulated how these links may be affected by future climate change.
- Researchers identified a strong correlation between high temperatures in the Amazon Rainforest and on the Tibetan Plateau. They found a similar relationship between temperatures in the Amazon and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.
- Deforestation in the Amazon likely influences the Tibetan Plateau via a convoluted 20,000-kilometer (12,400-mile) pathway driven by atmospheric and oceanic circulation patterns. The study suggests that a healthy, functioning Amazon is crucial not only for the regional climate in Brazil, but for the whole Earth system.

Do elections spur deforestation? It’s complicated, new study finds (Mar 3 2023)
- More deforestation occurs in years with competitive elections than in non-competitive election years (i.e., those with a single candidate or a rigged vote), according to a study examining 55 countries in the tropics between 2001 and 2018.
- Competitive elections can be potential drivers of deforestation because politicians use land and resources to win over voters. While there are laws and regulations against monetary and real estate bribery, there often aren’t any against the exploitation of natural resources.
- Researchers were surprised to find that deforestation was higher during non-election years and competitive election years than during non-competitive election years. They suggest several reasons why, although this contradicts findings from past studies.
- To better protect forests, the authors recommend that integrity and transparency monitoring schemes in place to monitor elections include natural resource monitoring and that conservation organizations and the media be extra vigilant in the lead-up to competitive election years.

Climate change lawsuits take aim at French bank BNP Paribas (Mar 3 2023)
- French bank BNP Paribas is being sued by a group of environmental and human rights advocacy groups that allege it provides financial services to oil and gas companies as well as meat producers that clear the Amazon to make space for cattle pastures.
- The basis of both lawsuits is a 2017 French law known as the “Duty of Vigilance Act,” which requires companies and financial institutions to develop reasonable due diligence measures that identify human rights and environmental violations.
- Even though the bank has committed to financing a net-zero carbon economy by 2050, the groups that filed the lawsuits said it still isn’t meeting the standards of the 2017 law.

In Brazil, criminals dismantle one of the best-preserved swaths of the Amazon (Feb 23 2023)
- The Terra do Meio Ecological Station spans 3.37 million hectares (8.33 million acres) in the Brazilian Amazonian state of Pará and is home to hundreds of wildlife species, including many threatened with extinction.
- Despite its protected status, Terra do Meio has come under growing pressure, with data showing deforestation doubling in 2022, reaching 4,300 hectares (nearly 11,000 acres).
- Environmentalists say the destruction within Terra do Meio is being driven by illegal loggers, miners and land speculators — and they fear a new road slicing through the reserve could usher in more destruction.
- Advocates are placing their hopes in Brazil’s new president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who has promised to crack down on invasions into protected reserves and rein in sky-high deforestation rates.

Deforestation could pose disease threat to Amazon’s white-lipped peccaries (Feb 22 2023)
- White-lipped peccaries are vital ecosystem engineers and an important source of food for people living in the Amazon.
- Deforestation has reduced their habitat and, in addition, researchers highlight that disease is an understudied factor in their conservation.
- Scientists say it could represent an additional threat to an already vulnerable species, as continuing deforestation and expanding agricultural frontiers can bring greater contact between domestic animals and wildlife, potentially leading to spillover events.

The $20m flip: The story of the largest land grab in the Brazilian Amazon (Feb 14 2023)
- This is the story of how three individual landowners engineered the single-largest instance of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.
- The clearing of 6,469 hectares (or 15,985 acres) of forest in the southern part of Pará state could earn them nearly $20 million in profit at current land prices.
- The case is emblematic of the spate of land grabs targeting unallocated public lands throughout the Amazon, where speculators clear and burn the vegetation, then sell the empty land for soy farms, or plant grass and sell it for cattle ranching.
- This article was originally published in Portuguese by The Intercept Brasil and is part of the Ladrões de Floresta (Thieves of the Forest) project, which investigates the appropriation of public land inside the Amazon and is funded by the Pulitzer Center’s Rainforest Investigations Network.

Biden-Lula meeting: The time is right for U.S. and Brazil to work together for Amazonia (commentary) (Feb 10 2023)
- The Amazon rainforest will be a key point of discussion at today’s summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
- Jeffrey Hoelle, an Associate Professor of Anthropology at UC-Santa Barbara, and Valério Gomes, a Professor at the Amazon Institute of Smallholder Agriculture at the Federal University of Pará, argue that there are a number of opportunities for the U.S. and Brazil to collaborate when it comes to climate change and protecting the environment.
- For example, Hoelle and Gomes say the U.S. could provide financial support for the Amazon Fund, enhance its ability to track illegal commodities that fuel deforestation, and pass legislation that provides support for local communities for forest preservation, among others.
- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily of Mongabay.

Brazil-U.S. cooperation is key for global forest conservation (commentary) (Feb 9 2023)
- On Friday, Brazilian President Lula visits President Biden in Washington, D.C., to discuss topics including the U.S. joining the multilateral Amazon Fund, aimed at fighting deforestation in Brazil: a commitment could be announced during the meeting.
- In the early 2000s, then President Lula’s Brazil slowed Amazon deforestation, designating 60 million acres of new protected areas and Indigenous territories, mounting anti-deforestation law enforcement operations, and cutting off farm credit to landowners who leveled forests illegally.
- The U.S. joining the Amazon Fund would be very important, but a genuine partnership is about more than money, a new op-ed argues: “The U.S. and Brazil should share their cutting-edge science, technology and data to monitor forests. Both sides have world-class space agencies and innovations to track and manage land use,” they write.
- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily of Mongabay.

Lula’s government must go far beyond undoing Bolsonaro policies on Amazon forest & Indigenous rights (commentary) (Feb 9 2023)
- Despite the hope embodied in Brazil’s new president, the protection of Indigenous peoples and reducing deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon still face an uphill struggle.
- “To ensure continued protection for Brazil’s environment and Indigenous communities, Lula and his government institutions need to go beyond merely undoing Bolsonaro’s previous policies. They must expand the work that they do,” the authors of a new op-ed argue.
- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily of Mongabay.

Illegal mines and “floating towns” on the Puré River leave uncontacted Indigenous peoples at risk (Feb 6 2023)
- The Yurí-Passé are at risk of coming into contact with illegal miners and drug traffickers, which violates their right and deliberate decision to live in isolation from the Western world.
- According to one study, mercury levels in the blood of communities living along the Caquetá river and its tributaries, such as the Puré River, are much higher than the average.
- Although the Puré River area is located in a protected area, mining activity has increased following a number of threats made against park rangers and an arson attack on a cabin belonging to Colombia’s Natural National Parks authority (PNN) by FARC dissidents. Despite military operations, mining activities continue, with dozens of dredgers thought to be operating on the river.

From Japan to Brazil: Reforesting the Amazon with the Miyawaki method (Jan 24 2023)
- Reforestation using the Miyawaki method seeks to restore nature to its original state with results that can be seen in around six years.
- Miyawaki works around three concepts: trees should be native, several species should be randomly planted, and the materials for the seedlings and the soil should be organic.
- The method is suitable for urban areas, which gives it a significant capacity to connect human beings with nature, with benefits for the health and well-being of the population.
- Different from other reforestation methods that may seek a financial return, like agroforestry, the motivation of the Miyawaki method is purely ecological.

For Indigenous Brazilians, capital attack was ‘scenario of war’ akin to deforestation (Jan 13 2023)
- The morning after protesters attacked government buildings in Brazil’s capital, Mongabay spoke with Indigenous Congresswoman Célia Xakriabá, who compared the act of vandalism to forest destruction: “This is this scenario of war when you deforest.”
- * Célia Xakriabá had just returned from seeing the damage to the National Congress building: “When they [the rioters] were there also in the Green Room, it made me remember that it is this scenario of war when the repossession takes place in the [Indigenous] territory.”
- One of the immediate effects of the attack was the temporary suspension of the official inauguration of longtime activist Sonia Guajajara as Brazil’s first minister of Indigenous peoples and Anielle Franco as minister for racial equality.
- The two women were finally sworn in on Jan. 11 at the Presidential Palace, despite the missing glass on the walls, the destroyed gallery of photos of former presidents, and a swath of destruction throughout the building. “[This] is the most legitimate symbol of this secular Black and Indigenous resistance in Brazil!” Sonia Guajajara said.

Dammed, now mined: Indigenous Brazilians fight for the Xingu River’s future (Jan 12 2023)
- Canadian mining company Belo Sun wants to build a huge gold mine in the Big Bend of the Xingu River in the Brazilian Amazon, but faces opposition from Indigenous communities.
- In addition to the environmental impacts, experts warn of the risk of the proposed tailings dam rupturing, which could flood the area with 9 million cubic meters (2.4 billion gallons) of toxic waste.
- The same region is already suffering the impacts of the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam, which diverts up to 85% of the flow of the Xingu River, leading to a mass decline in fish that traditional riverside dwellers and Indigenous people rely on.  
- The Belo Sun project was legally challenged last year, prompting supporters to harass and intimidate those who oppose the mine’s construction; tensions in the region remain high.

Deforestation ‘out of control’ in reserve in Brazil’s cattle capital (Jan 11 2023)
- Forest destruction has ravaged Triunfo do Xingu, a reserve earmarked for sustainable use that has nonetheless become one of the most deforested slices of the Brazilian Amazon.
- Fires burned swaths of the reserve in recent months and forest clearing has surged, with satellite images showing even the most remote remnants of old-growth rainforest were whittled away last year.
- Advocates say the forest is mainly giving way to cattle pasture, although illegal mining and land grabbing are gaining ground.
- The destruction, facilitated by lax environmental regulation, is placing pressure on nearby protected areas and undermining agroforestry efforts in Triunfo do Xingu, advocates say.