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Protests and petitions may cause Brazil to reconsider opening up of protected rainforest areas

A petition to prevent protected areas of the Amazon rainforest from being opened up to logging has received more than 1 million signatures.

Posted : 19 August 2011

Organised by international civic organisation Avaaz, it calls on Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff to rethink her government’s endorsement of a bill that could weaken forest-protection legislation. To sign the petition, click on the link below.

Almost four-fifths of Brazilians are said to support a veto of the Forest Law Reform Bill, which would abolish all permanent preservation areas in the Amazon.

One of the world’s most rapidly industrialising countries, Brazil will host the football World Cup in 2014, the Olympics in 2016 and next year’s Earth Summit.

However, its reputation on the global environmental scene has been tarnished by a repeated failure or unwillingness to halt illegal logging in the Amazon basin. In June, a 31-year-old protestor was shot dead in Para state, the sixth such murder in three weeks.

Allegations of corruption have also forced four ministers to resign from the government since Rousseff became president in January. The latest, agriculture minister Wagner Rossi, quit yesterday after being accused of accepting bribes and air tickets from agricultural companies.

But voices within the government back the popular support for the law to remain unchanged and Avaaz claims Rousseff herself is increasingly onside after widespread protests within Brazil, including recent large marches demanding rights for indigenous peoples and their lands.

Environment minister Izabella Teixeira said preservation areas were “life itself and ensure the preservation of water supplies, soils, and protection for fauna. Without them there would be no environmental services that are so strategic for the sustainable production of Brazilian agriculture.”

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