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Amazon ‘at tipping point’

New study reveals three-quarters of the Amazon rainforest is in decline
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Deforestation fire in the Amazon

A new study by the University of Exeter, published in the journal <eSpringer Nature, has revealed the Amazon rainforest is reaching a ‘tipping point’ after which large swathes will begin to transform into savannah.

According to Press Association reporting, the study found that three-quarters of the Amazon is showing a dwindling resilience against droughts and other adverse weather events, meaning it is less able to recover.

It also says that, compared with pre-industrial levels, around a fifth of the rainforest has already been lost.

Preventing a catastrophe

The report came in the same week that the Brazilian government again attempted to advance a package of laws that will further devastate the Amazon biome, and mere months after paying lip service at COP26 to a declaration to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030.

Just weeks ago, new figures put Amazon deforestation at a 15-year high. 

‘This alarming report is fresh evidence of the desperate need for action from governments and retailers if we’re to prevent the climate, humanitarian and wildlife catastrophe that losing the Amazon and other climate-critical ecosystems would cause. 

‘Despite promises to stop, UK supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Aldi, are still buying from companies like JBS, a Brazilian meat giant notorious for driving destruction of the Amazon and other vital forests across Brazil. Unless supermarkets drop JBS immediately and stop selling industrially produced meat and dairy, they remain complicit in this unfolding catastrophe.’

Head of food and forests at Greenpeace UK

The land grabbing bill

The land grabbing bill text is due to be voted on tomorrow (10 March) in committee, following which it will go to a full plenary for a final vote. This would be the head of Senate’s decision – Rodrigo Pacheco.

In May 2021, 40 retailers including all of the UK’s major supermarkets wrote to the Brazilian Congress to express concern about the land grabbing bill, threatening to withdraw from the Brazilian soya market should it pass.

This followed a letter in May 2020, from the same group of retailers who said that passing the bill would ‘put at risk the ability of organisations such as ours to continue sourcing from Brazil.’

According to the Brazilian organisation Imazon, the land grabbing bill (PL2633/2020 and PL510/2021) would put at least 19.6 million hectares of public non-designated land in the Amazon at risk and cause deforestation of up to 1.6m hectares by 2027. 

The environmental licensing bill (PL 2159/2021) removes the need for environmental impact assessments in many cases and will advance projects to build new roads, pushing deforestation into new areas. An estimated 14.7 million hectares of land could be converted to soy plantations or for livestock.

Civil society is organising a big moment today (09 March), led by Brazilian singer Caetano Veloso. He has a meeting with Pacheco and will hold a press conference outside the Brazilian parliament.

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