Plans to reduce forest protections linked to attacks on inspectors and campaigners, environmental groups said after two land rights activists murdered.
Environmental campaigners have blamed the Brazilian government and Congress for intensifying violence in the lawless Amazon after two land activists were murdered and a transporter carrying vehicles for Brazil’s environment agency was torched last week.
Activists said plans to reduce forest protection gave farmers, loggers and land grabbers a sense of impunity to attack government inspectors and activists squatting rural properties.

Published in Economy

Scientists have discovered the river reef is far bigger, and more important, than first thought – a biodiversity hotspot on a par with the Great Barrier Reef. Now they face a race to protect it from big oil.
There is a flickering, bright glimmer of sky as the two-person submarine descends beneath the muddy equatorial waters to a place no human has ever seen – a vast, complex coral reef at the mouth of the world’s greatest river.

Thirty metres under the murky plume of the sediment-heavy Amazon, the sub enters a darker, richer world. A school of curious remora fish approaches the two-tonne machine. Crabs and starfish loom in its eerie lights. A metre-long amberjack swims past, then a two-metre ray.

At a depth of 80 metres, the pilot pauses to record large mounds of coral covered in rainbow-coloured pygmy angelfish, wrasses and parrotfish. There are sponges 30ft long.

At 120 metres the sub settles on the nearly level ocean floor in a field of soft coral, sea whips and fans. The pilot manoeuvres its remote cameras to within inches of the reef wall. It consists mainly of sponges and colourful rhodolith beds – masses of coral-like red algae – which are formed by chemical synthesis and thrive in the low light.

Published in Business

Norway has issued a blunt threat to Brazil that if rising deforestation in the Amazon rainforest is not reversed, its billion-dollar financial assistance will fall to zero. The leaders of the two nations meet in Oslo on Friday.

The oil-rich Scandinavian nation has provided $1.1bn to Brazil’s Amazon fund since 2008, tied to reductions in the rate of deforestation in the world’s greatest rainforest. The destruction of forests by timber and farming industries is a major contributor to the carbon emissions that drive climate change and Norway views protecting the Amazon as vital for the whole world.

The rate of deforestation in the Amazon fell steadily from 2008 to 2014, an “impressive achievement” which had a “very positive impact” on Brazil and the world, according to Vidar Helgesen, Norway’s environment minister.

But in a forthright letter to Brazil’s environment minister, José Sarney Filho, seen by the Guardian, Helgesen said: “In 2015 and 2016 deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon saw a worrying upward trend.” He warned that this had already reduced Norway’s contributions and added: “Even a fairly modest further increase would take this number to zero.”

Published in Economy

Emily's Experience with Environmental Volunteer Work at the Tijuca Rainforest

I was in Rio de Janeiro for 4 weeks helping out in the Tijuca rainforest and at the community garden in a favela. I met so many different people from all over the world and as a result, I not only learned about Brazil but many other cultures. It's a great way to get to know a city and have more of a local feel and the program itself is very reasonably priced. I would definitely consider coming back to Iko Poran for volunteering again.

  • Emily, University of Waterloo

Published in Economy
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