The Amazon rainforest, this wonder of nature sprawling across nine countries in Latin America, holds a special place on this planet.
Faced with stark climate and biodiversity crises, we cannot afford more damage to it – or to human health from the haze that hangs over communities and cities. We must help Brazil extinguish these fires and offer long-term support to prevent further illegal deforestation.
To get the job done, it is important to understand that while fires are burning in record numbers, they happen every year. The blazes and wider deforestation are driven by demand for agricultural land to meet the growing global demand for beef and animal feed. Rising global temperatures are also an exacerbating factor.
There is a lot Brazil itself can quickly do once it has dealt with the immediate crisis of extinguishing the blazes. The country has a strong historical tradition of protecting the Amazon; in fact, between 2004 and 2012, Brazil managed to reduce deforestation by over 80 per cent. Yet since then we have gone backwards. In the immediate term, we need to do three key things.
Firstly, it is time to return to stronger enforcement. More than 100 countries including Brazil have legislation enshrining the right to a healthy environment. But it is useless if it is not enforced properly. The message needs to be sent actions that destroy our natural world will not be tolerated.
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