The Amazon rainforest, which is considered Earth’s lung and the most crucial agent of climate regulation, has continued on a path of destruction for decades due to a lack of proper governance and extreme deforestation. Ecologists in Brazil have been working to preserve these lands from corporations laying waste and stripping vital natural resources, that have resulted in the extinction of thousands of species. They developed a model that allows Indigenous locals to hunt, fish and harvest native plants without the presence of landowners who abuse the land for unsustainable practices. These researchers established the Juruá Institute, where nearly 8 miles of land and freshwater sources were purchased. This will be designated solely for local communities to use while protecting these areas from outside forces who contribute to the loss of biodiversity. Now, residents near the Juruá River have complete control and access to the freshwater source, stimulating their economy and preserving their way of life. Because the majority of land in the Amazon is public, there is no strict regulation or protection from international businesses and agricultural enterprises who drive Indigenous families off their native lands. Fernanda de Araujo Moraes, a resident of Lago Serrado, mother and the river community association’s president said “We want to improve people’s lives and the Institute wants the same thing” while facing a lack of legislative support. Environmentalists in Brazil blame the Amazon’s degradation on former president Jair Bolsonaro, who authorized countless logging, mining and infrastructure projects that ultimately made the land unusable. According to Greenpeace calculations, over 45,000 kilometers of wildlife and vegetation were eradicated during his four-year term, which was a 55% increase from before he was elected. Hope prevails for Brazil however, as current president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva plans to roll back on previous policies by fighting for sustainable practices, minimizing deforestation and protecting vulnerable communities. During his previous presidency in 2012, Lula made remarkable progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions as well as deforestation by 70%. Lula receives backlash from Bolsonaro supporters, as he intends to reinstate the Amazon Fund which will place sanctions on Brazil’s companies who freely destroyed Indigenous lands. Last year, deforestation reached a record high since its record started in 2015, and this pattern remains unrelenting, as data shows the number of trees and native species rapidly decline every year. The Nature journal discovered that the Amazon is no longer an absorber of carbon dioxide, but is now a major contributor as of 2021, showing how drastically the climate crisis has progressed and how desperately change must be made. President Lula and the researchers’ efforts to revive the Amazon will undoubtedly serve the urgent environmental crisis, but the implementation will require a collective government action, which has proven futile in previous years as de-regulation from countries such as China, Britain, and the United States are pervasive.
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