Amazon rainforest ‘could face unprecedented deforestation’

The Amazon rainforest could be at risk of unprecedented levels of deforestation. That’s according to Philip Fearnside, Professor at the National Amazon Research Institute, who says last year alone, more than 3,000 square miles of plants […]

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By Jonny Bairstow

The Amazon rainforest could be at risk of unprecedented levels of deforestation.

That’s according to Philip Fearnside, Professor at the National Amazon Research Institute, who says last year alone, more than 3,000 square miles of plants and trees were cut down.

This is a 29% higher deforestation rate than the previous year.

Brazilian President Michel Temer is currently trying to ease environmental protections in an effort to boost investment and bring the country out of its recession.

His administration has already started to approve a host of new infrastructure projects in the Tapajós and Xingu river basins, including dams, man-made waterways and mines, which some believe could put up to a fifth of the region at risk.

The government plans to build more than 40 hydroelectric dams in the area by 2022, which scientists believe could flood tens of thousands of hectares of land.

Low humidity caused by the loss of rainforest has already triggered record droughts in the country.

Professor Fearnside said: “Politicians are very anxious to have the economy recover but removing environmental restrictions and approving all sorts of projects adds up to environmental and social impacts that are not being considered.”

The local government says the investments will help ease the economic woes of the people who live there and the country as a whole – others suggest the region’s traditional riverside communities may instead be devastated by the results.

UK celebrities have previously backed campaigns to save the Amazon from destructive hydroelectric dams.