People & Power

Brazil’s Amazonian Battle

Amid growing climate anxiety, we investigate the destruction of the Brazilian rainforest under President Jair Bolsonaro.

Since the late 1970s, some one million square kilometres of Amazonian forest have been destroyed, mostly through industrial activities and large-scale agriculture like cattle-ranching, soy farms and irrigation projects.

Sixty percent of the Amazon lies within Brazil, which is where the most rapacious deforestation has taken place.

By the turn of the century, under growing international pressure, Brazil enacted new environmental legislation and stricter enforcement of the laws. But about a decade ago, that hopeful trend began to reverse. This was cemented when right-wing politician Jair Bolsonaro took office in January 2019 and began dismantling environmental protections despite opposition from environmentalists and Indigenous peoples.

Now, Brazil’s Amazon rainforests are once again being decimated at an alarming rate. We explore the causes and consequences and meet some of those fighting to stop the destruction.