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
12%
Fires
Sub-canopy fires often result in degradation, not deforestation
9%
Agriculture
Large-scale industrial agriculture like soy and plantations
8%
Logging
Selective logging commonly results in degradation, not deforestation
6%
Other
Mining, urbanization, road construction, dams, etc.
2%

 

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

Soy

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.

Timber

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
AcreAmazon13,505,69012,583,4186.8%14312070134293788.1%
AlagoasAtlantic forest35,53734,9331.7%57551851079211.4%
AmapáAmazon10,934,64510,792,2681.3%12172480121887352.5%
AmazonasAmazon143,485,183141,217,4831.6%1505680051482690452.0%
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%
MaranhãoAmazon3,185,7322,483,15322.1%210154431639155623.0%
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%
ParáAmazon92,225,89683,576,9739.4%1079637179701346412.4%
ParaíbaAtlantic forest23,76423,5121.1%11214826632639.6%
ParanáAtlantic forest1,044,8811,020,2532.4%7947474734017014.1%
PernambucoAtlantic forest42,72741,0014.0%1563136125875910.7%
PiauíCaatinga141,286139,7851.1%11538381930006310.3%
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%
RondôniaAmazon15,649,57812,470,56320.3%184855791490877921.7%
RoraimaAmazon15,425,75914,683,7384.8%17889964170758365.7%
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

New beef scorecard measures brands against their deforestation promises
- A new scorecard ranks major beef retailers such as Sainsbury’s, McDonald’s, Costco, and Carrefour against their own pledges to eliminate deforestation from their supply lines.
- These beef retailers, supermarkets and fast-food chains, are lagging behind industry commitments to be deforestation-free by 2020.
- Imports of beef from Brazil to the United States and Europe are on the rise, linking unwitting customers in developed nations to tropical rainforest destruction.
- Food companies have shown themselves to be sensitive to pressure, responding to shifts in consumer habits and demands.

Cattle-driven clearing continues in Brazil’s Triunfo do Xingu protected area
- Triunfo do Xingu Environmental Protection Area lies in the ecologically rich Xingu Basin in the Brazilian Amazon and spans some 1.7 million hectares (4.2 million acres) — an area more than half the size of Belgium.
- Despite its protected status, the area has been heavily deforested, losing 476,000 hectares (1.18 million acres) of humid primary forest between 2006 and 2020, according to satellite data from the University of Maryland (UMD), a 32% decrease in total forest cover.
- 2020 saw the highest amount of forest loss since the creation of the protected area, nearly 70,000 hectares (173,000 acres) — an area nearly the size of New York City; preliminary data show clearing of Triunfo do Xingu’s forests has continued into 2021, with “unusually high” levels of deforestation detected the week of March 15.
- Deforestation in the region is largely driven by cattle ranching, and sources say the invasions of Triunfo do Xingu are aided by its remoteness as well as lax enforcement of environmental regulations.

Indigenous peoples are being shortchanged as forest guardians: Report
- A new report shows that Indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) in tropical forest countries are not getting enough funding to preserve ecosystems despite their key role as environmental guardians.
- Not only are local communities underfunded, but some of the donations from the OECD club of rich countries do not go directly to them, flowing instead via intermediaries, according to the report published by Rainforest Foundation Norway.
- The researchers behind the report, covering the period 2011-2020, warn that this lack of funding could result in the loss of territories and ecosystems that IPLCs have maintained for generations.
- Brazil received 45% of the donor financing for Latin America, while Indonesia took in 26% in Asia; the two countries host more than half of the remaining tropical rainforests in their respective regions.

As COP26 looms and tropical deforestation soars, REDD+ debate roars on
- The United Nations REDD+ program (reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) has been operating for more than 13 years as a multipurpose initiative, intended to curb deforestation in tropical nations, sequester forest carbon, combat climate change, protect biodiversity, and aid poor rural communities.
- The REDD+ mechanism is largely paid for by wealthy industrialized countries contributing funds to less developed tropical nations, including those in the Amazon, Congo Basin and Indonesia.
- Some 600 REDD+ projects have been initiated to date (with some 400 still active), mostly implemented by socioenvironmental NGOs or for-profit project developers, and financed by more than $10 billion in donor funds in more than 65 countries. But evidence of avoided deforestation and reduced carbon emissions is controversial.
- With the COP26 Glasgow climate summit looming in November, Mongabay invited experts to weigh in on the global initiative’s successes and failings, with some supporting expansion of REDD+ via revised program rules and funding, while others support major reforms, or even the initiative’s replacement.

Bills before Brazil Congress slammed for rewarding Amazon land grabbers
- Two bills, one each in the upper and lower houses of Congress, would grant invaders of public forests with land titles, instead of punishing them and returning the land to the state.
- The proposals also increase the area of properties eligible for regularization without an on-site inspection, and risk exacerbating land conflicts in Brazil.
- Both bills were born from an executive order from President Jair Bolsonaro that expired in May last year.
- The backers of the bills say they would facilitate the regularization of the lands of small farmers, but environmental and land issues experts say the main beneficiaries will be land grabbers and large farmers.

New palm oil frontier sparks scramble for land in the Brazilian Amazon
- Cultivation of oil palm has surged in Brazil’s northern state of Roraima over the last decade, fueled by an ambitious push towards biofuels.
- While palm oil companies operating in the area claim they do not deforest, critics say they are contributing to a surge in demand for cleared land in this region, driving cattle ranchers, soy farmers and land speculators deeper into the forest.
- As the demand for land increases, incursions near and into Indigenous lands that neighbor palm oil plantations are also on the rise.
- Indigenous rights activists say that in addition to the loss of forest, they’re worried about the pesticides that palm oil plantations are doused with and the runoff from processing mills, which frequently end up in soil and water sources, and that encroaching outsiders may introduce COVID-19 to vulnerable communities.

‘We are made invisible’: Brazil’s Indigenous on prejudice in the city
- Contrary to popular belief, Brazil’s Indigenous people aren’t confined to the Amazon Rainforest, with more than a third of them, or about 315,000 individuals, living in urban areas.
- Over the past year, we dived into the census and related databases to produce unique maps and infographics showing not only how the Indigenous residents are distributed in six cities and in Brazil overall, but also showcasing their access to education, sewage and other amenities, and their ethnic diversity.
- Access to higher education is a milestone: the number of Indigenous people enrolled in universities jumped from 10,000 to about 81,000 between 2010 and 2019, giving them a higher college education rate than the general population.
- This data-driven reporting project received funding support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting’s data journalism and property rights grant.

Government inaction prompts voluntary REDD+ carbon credit boom in Brazil
- With the Bolsonaro government largely indifferent to participating in a carbon credit market, and amid intensifying pressure from clients and investors, a voluntary carbon credit market is booming in Brazil. The country, however, still doesn’t have any regulation about how and by whom credits can be issued.
- REDD+ projects that issue carbon credits for reforesting or avoiding deforestation have caught the attention of financial market players. Amid the new carbon credit trading firms, such as financial technology company Moss, and other initiatives, Brazilian projects offer both examples of success and failure in forest preservation.
- REDD+ supporters argue Brazil’s voluntary carbon credit market is allowing small-scale farmers and Indigenous and traditional people to get in the game, benefiting them financially, and helping conserve forests and protect the Earth’s climate.
- But critics say it’s difficult to ensure that forest conservation promises made today can be kept in the future, especially in a nation notorious for illegal deforestation and record forest fires. Also, protecting one area can simply drive the deforestation to another area.

Beef giant JBS vows to go deforestation-free — 14 years from now
- JBS, a giant company implicated in multiple cases of large-scale forest clearing in Brazil, recently made a commitment to achieve zero deforestation across its global supply chain by 2035. Environmentalists argue this pledge is grossly insufficient.
- In a new Soy and Cattle Deforestation Tracker, JBS scores just a single point out of 100. Its nearest competitors, Minerva and Marfrig, have scores of 46/100 and 40/100 respectively.
- Tagging and tracking systems to ensure transparency along the entire beef supply have long been proposed, but JBS has resisted disclosing its full list of suppliers.
- Under present conditions, Brazil is losing forest cover at the fastest rate in more than a decade, and this deforestation is driven largely by the meatpacking industry.

Exposing organized crime in the Amazon: Q&A with Robert Muggah of the Igarapé Institute
- Relentless deforestation has pushed the Amazon to the brink of an ecological shift from rainforest to savannah with potentially devastating consequences for climate change and biodiversity.
- Home to most of the world’s tropical forest land, almost all logging in the Amazon is thought to be illegal, yet few penalties are imposed on offenders.
- To address the culture of impunity, a new data visualization platform, Ecocrime, has been developed by the Igarapé Institute, which seeks to expose the organized criminal networks that sustain illicit trade in the Amazon.

Study sounds latest warning of rainforest turning into savanna as climate warms
- A recent study from Brazil shows that heat stress is disrupting a critical component of photosynthesis in tree species found in the Amazon and Cerrado belt.
- Leaves heat up faster than the ambient air, and sufficiently high temperatures can cause irreversible damage to them and endanger the tree.
- The area has become hotter in recent decades and faced increasingly intense heat waves, fueled not just by global warming but also local deforestation.
- Tropical forests could look more and more like deciduous forests or savannas in the future, which are better adapted to deal with higher temperatures, the study found.

Podcast: Palm oil plantations and their impacts have arrived in the Amazon
- On today’s episode of the Mongabay Newscast, we speak with Mongabay’s contributing editor for Brazil, Karla Mendes, who recently published an investigative report that found the palm oil industry’s growth in the Brazilian Amazon is driving the same deforestation and community conflicts oil palm operations are responsible for in Southeast Asia.
- We also speak with Sandra Damiani, a researcher at the University of Brasília whose study found that both above-ground watercourses and groundwater in the Turé-Mariquita Indigenous Reserve in Brazil’s Pará state were contaminated with pesticides and herbicides used on nearby palm oil plantations.
- Lastly, we speak with Felício Pontes Júnior, a federal prosecutor for the Amazon region who filed a lawsuit seven years against one of Brazil’s biggest palm oil companies, but is still fighting to do the investigation needed to prove who’s responsible for the pollution in the Turé-Mariquita Indigenous Reserve.

For International Day of Forests, an update on rainforest developments
- This Sunday is International Day of Forests as established by the U.N. in 2012.
- In recognition, here’s an update on some of the topics from Mongabay’s “Rainforests: 11 things to watch in 2021” published back in January.

Video: Communities struggle against palm oil plantations spreading in Brazilian Amazon
- Palm oil, a crop synonymous with deforestation and conflict in Southeast Asia, is making inroads in the Brazilian Amazon, where the same issues are now playing out. Indigenous and traditional communities say the plantations in their midst are polluting their rivers and lands, and driving fish and game away.
- Federal prosecutors have pursued Brazil’s leading palm oil exporters in the courts for the past seven years–alleging the companies are contaminating water supplies, poisoning the soil, and harming the livelihoods and health of Indigenous and traditional peoples–charges the companies deny.
- This video was produced as part of an 18-month investigation into the palm oil industry in the Brazilian state of Pará.

Brazil’s isolated tribes in the crosshairs of miners targeting Indigenous lands
- The Amazônia Minada reporting project has revealed 1,265 pending requests to mine in Indigenous territories in Brazil, including restricted lands that are home to isolated tribes.
- Brazil’s federal agency for Indigenous affairs, Funai, holds 114 reports of isolated tribes, of which 43 are within Indigenous lands targeted by mining.
- In addition to the spread of diseases such as COVID-19 and malaria, mining activity poses health threats from the mercury used in gold extraction, which contaminates rivers and fish.
- Indigenous groups have filed a lawsuit with Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court against the government, demanding protection for isolated Indigenous peoples.

Brazil must do more to protect its people, forests, and the planet (commentary)
- Amid skyrocketing deforestation and destruction of Brazil’s natural environment, the Bolsonaro government is weakening climate commitments and rolling back domestic environmental protections, driving Brazil’s people and the planet ‘off a cliff.’
- This destruction threatens Indigenous communities, wildlife and the global climate, and it is also unpopular in Brazil, as it threatens the country’s economic standing, with reports emerging that rampant deforestation is blocking Brazil’s accession to the OECD.
- Urgent solutions to this existential threat for irreplaceable biomes include stronger climate targets, restoration of effective environmental legislation, and international pressure on the Bolsonaro government.
- This article is a commentary and the views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.

Traditional healers are preserving their knowledge, and with it, the biodiversity of Brazil’s savanna
- The Brazilian savanna contains almost a third of Brazil’s biodiversity but less than 10% is officially protected and its native vegetation is threatened by a rapidly-advancing agricultural frontier.
- Much of the flora and fauna remain unknown to conventional science.
- A network of traditional healers is at the forefront of finding ways to protect, sustainably manage, and document the biodiversity based on their in-depth knowledge of medicinal plants.
- Experts say that finding ways to value the savanna more, such as through recognizing its immense botanical and pharmacological value, could aid in its conservation.

Amazon’s Belo Monte dam cuts Xingu River flow 85%; a crime, Indigenous say
- In February, IBAMA, Brazil’s environmental agency permitted Belo Monte mega-dam operator Norte Energia to drastically reduce flows to the Volta Grande (Big Bend) of the Xingu River for at least a year. That decision reversed an earlier ruling to maintain much higher Xingu River flows and the fishery — as legally required.
- The flow reduction will leave 70% of usually-flooded forest dry this season, causing massive fish mortality and diminished reproduction, experts say. Community group Xingu Vivo Para Sempre denounced the decision as “a death sentence for the Xingu” and demanded IBAMA’s and Norte Energia’s presidents be “criminally prosecuted.”
- Norte Energia has funded projects to mitigate the reduced flow, collecting and dropping fruit into the river for fish to feed on, and releasing captive-bred fish. But scientists say these approaches are unscientific and will likely be ineffective, and can’t make up for the loss of the river’s seasonal flood pulse, upon which fish depend.
- Residents say the government has spread misinformation, telling Brazilian consumers that their electricity bills would go up if Belo Monte released more water to maintain the Xingu’s ecosystem — something Norte Energia is obligated to do. At present, water levels on the Volta Grande have not been restored.

Indigenous rights take a hit under cover of pandemic, new report says
- A new report evaluates the state of human rights among Indigenous peoples in five tropical forest countries: Brazil, Colombia, Peru, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Indonesia.
- One of the key findings is that governments in these countries are prioritizing the expansion of the energy sector, infrastructure, mining and logging, and the development of industrial agriculture close to or inside Indigenous territories, while loosening oversight of land grabbing and illegal deforestation.
- Indigenous peoples have had to adapt their resistance and fight to the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic to avoid having their rights violated even further.

The Possible Meat: A Brazilian farmer shows ranching can regenerate the Cerrado
- Matheus Sborgia, a Brazilian chef, decided to bet on regenerative agriculture after inheriting his grandfather’s cattle ranch in the heart of the Cerrado.
- Sborgia embraced the idea of holistic management and rotational grazing preached by Allan Savory, a Zimbabwean ecologist who became famous for his provocative idea that to save the planet from climate change, instead of reducing livestock farming, we would have to increase it.
- Instead of letting his 200 cows range freely, Sborgia lets them eat everything in a small plot of land before moving them on to another plot; by the time they cycle back the original plot has already regenerated.
- The Brazilian Cerrado is one of the country’s most overgrazed regions. It suffered one of its worst wildfire seasons ever during the past year, and while the ranches around Sborgia’s property were dry, his own land was green and full of life.