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Amazon Deforestation Drops 60% Under Lula da Silva

Photo: CNN

  • A Victory for Brazil’s Amazon

Marina Silva, Brazil’s environmental minister, has confirmed that deforestation levels in Brazil have dropped by at least 60% this year. This dropoff is the highest rate since 2005. 

  • What has changed in 2023 in Brazil? 

Brazil’s political landscape changed drastically in 2023. Last year was the beginning of Lula da Silva’s term as president. Lula’s predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, pushed for the deforestation of the Amazon. According to Bolsonaro, the reasoning behind this is that there was a need to supply Brazil’s booming economy. Environmentalists worried about Bolsonaro’s policies as the Amazon’s deforestation was occurring at alarming rates. Noticing this problem, Lula da Silva campaigned and criticized Bolosonaro’s policies, helping him win the presidential election. For one, Lula has combated illegal mining and punished land grabbers by mobilizing paramilitaries in the Amazon. In addition, indigenous lands have received many more protections while the amount of conservation areas has increased. 

  • How Lula’s results can impact the Amazon? 

Besides Brazil, other countries compromise the remaining 40% of the Amazon: Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Guyana, and Suriname. Lula’s policy can guide these countries in creating more effective anti-deforestation policies. From August 8-9, there will be an Amazon summit among these countries where Lula’s policy will bolster Brazil’s position as it could influence other Amazonian countries. 

  • Why has Lula’s policy been successful? 

Lula has made it clear that his aim is for zero deforestation. The main element that has helped towards this goal is transforming deforestation into an unprofitable venture. For example, banks are now denying credit to landowners who clear trees. The European Union (EU) has also implemented new deforestation-free laws that affect Brazil. Essentially, the EU no longer imports products that are a product of deforestation. Since the EU is a vital market for Brazil has made various Brazilian companies no longer engage in deforestation. Lastly, the Brazilian government has implemented more embargoes and better anti-deforestation technology. When accounting for all these factors, illegally deforesting the Amazon is not as economically enticing because of the overwhelming risks. 

  • The Implications of Deforestation in Brazil 

Shifts in deforestation tactics by Lula’s government are fundamental because of how much the Amazonian biome has changed in recent years. Some scientists have raised concerns that the Amazon can transform from a rainforest into a grassy savannah. Such a change would have massive implications as it would wipe out biodiversity and alter weather patterns in Brazil. If this were to happen, Brazil would have reduced rainfall, a detrimental hit to its agricultural sector. 

While this is a short-term victory for the Amazonian rainforest, Lula’s presidency needs to continue its efforts long-term to ensure these effects are more permanent. If the Amazon’s preservation continues while Brazil’s economy grows, Brazil can serve as a global example that a country’s economy can grow while maintaining its flora and fauna.

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