Following a staggering increase in fires this year, with flames and smoke captured on both NASA and NOAA satellites from space, it is clear the world must stand together to stop ongoing threats to the Amazon, which is vital to the world’s climate stability.
The Rainforest Alliance is working to leverage its relationships in the public and private sectors to pressure the Brazilian government to reinstate the environmental enforcement that is essential to defending the Amazon against illegal logging, destructive slash-and-burn agriculture and other existential threats.
In addition, the Rainforest Alliance has pledged to redirect 100 per cent of the funds donated in response to the social media alert to frontline groups in the Brazilian Amazon, including the Brazil chapter of our Indigenous federation partner COICA and our longtime sustainable agriculture partner IMAFLORA; as well as the Instituto Socioambiental and Imazon, both Brazilian NGOs working to defend the Amazon and advance Indigenous rights.
“The fires in the Amazon are the result of complicated political, financial and social factors,” said Henriette Walz, deforestation lead for the Rainforest Alliance. “We need continued collaborative effort from governments, companies, and consumers to send a message. We know the links between climate change, deforestation, and human welfare are there. We need to keep moving towards more sustainable agriculture and land management system and reap the many benefits such a system would provide.”
The scientific and social context
According to the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (INPE), satellite data has shown an 88 and 68 per cent increase in fires for June and July, respectively, compared to the same period in 2018. The space agency reports its satellite data has detected more than 74,000 fires since January 2019, the highest rate of fires since 2013.
The fires are caused in part by farmers clearing land to expand agriculture—natural fires in the Amazon are very rare due to the tropical humid climate of the region (although they are indeed increasing as a consequence of global warming). Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is the result of many different actions, including agricultural expansion (mainly for beef production), with illegal logging, mining, land speculation, urban development etc.
Rainforest Alliance’s commitment to help
Brazil has one of the best systems to monitor forests worldwide and has been an example of successful reduction of deforestation rates. It is essential that these efforts are resumed and further destruction to the Amazon is halted and eventually reversed.
“We are working with our partners in Brazil and around the world to pressure the Brazilian government to conserve the Amazon in a way that supports people and nature. Regulations on deforestation in Brazil must remain in place and must be enforced,” according to Rainforest Alliance.
Protecting the Amazon, like any forest, is as successful as the efforts of all those who touch the forest in any way. Businesses, local and indigenous communities, NGOs, civil society and governments must work toward the common goal of protecting the Amazon. Policymakers must create and enforce effective regulations and incentives to prevent deforestation, foster the reforestation of degraded lands and support the sustainable management of standing forests in the fight against climate change.
Rainforest Alliance’s work includes intensifying the ongoing advisory work with multi-national companies seeking to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains, the advancement of the Accountability Framework Initiative to provide a roadmap and concrete benchmarks for those companies and calling for regulation within the EU and other policy arenas to ensure people, nature and business can advance effective sustainability solutions. These, along with financial support for frontline groups fighting deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, are all measures that the Rainforest Alliance is taking in response to the crisis.
Need to protect the critical natural climate solution
The Amazon is the largest, most biodiverse forest in the world and is indisputably one of the world’s greatest natural climate solutions due to its unparalleled capacity to absorb carbon dioxide, as well as a critical source of fresh water. It is vital to global rainfall patterns. Protecting the Amazon—and all the world’s forests—ensures they can continue to provide these essential functions.
Although global attention is now focused on the Brazilian Amazon, it is important to note that manmade forest fires are an ongoing phenomenon that threatens tropical forests around the world, from the Amazon and Indonesia to Guatemala and Mexico. This should be of utmost concern to people around the world, since forests provide powerful natural climate solutions that, along with better agricultural practices, could deliver up to 37 per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions reductions required between now and 2030 to stabilise global warming below 2°C in a cost-effective manner.