Deforestation on the rise in Amazon

Americas Now

After a decade of slow gains, Brazil is losing its forests. According to the government, deforestation rose 28 percent in 2013 compared to the year before. Who’s behind the turnaround? Most of the usual culprits: farmers, ranchers, loggers and the officials who turn a blind eye to illegal logging. And now there may be a new threat: the looming end of a global suspension on buying and selling soybeans planted on newly cleared forestland.

CCTV Correspondent Gerry Hadden takes us to meet some of the people trying to defend Brazil’s environment, and not just its trees. And as he learns, environmental activism in Brazil is a very dangerous undertaking.

Deforestation on the rise in Amazon

Deforestation on the rise in Amazon

After a decade of slow gains, Brazil is losing its forests again. According to the government, deforestation rose 28 percent in 2013 compared to the year before. Who’s behind the turnaround? CCTV Correspondent Gerry Hadden takes us to meet some of the people trying to defend Brazil’s environment, and not just its trees. And as he learns, environmental activism in Brazil is a very dangerous undertaking.

Follow Gerry Hadden on Twitter @gerryhadden

The Amazon Rainforest is one of the world’s greatest natural resources, with 60 percent of it is located in Brazil. It holds half of the tropical forests remaining on earth and releases one fourth of the earth’s fresh water. Currently, Brazil’s responsibility is trying to preserve the Amazon, while also keeping its economy strong by increasing industry. The country has become the king of soy. For the government, landowners and multi-nationals, the bean is gold. However, not everyone is a winner.

The Xavante people’s beliefs and their traditional way of life are under threat. Persecuted from the colonial period onward, the tribe now makes its stand in the pre-Amazon wilderness in Brazil. But they are surrounded. The invader? Soybeans. The forests where they hunt and gather are shrinking due to soy beans. Huge industrial farms are now covering millions of acres of what were once woodlands of acres and tropical savannah.

Eight years ago Greenpeace and other groups launched a global war on soy, and won. Under pressure, most of the world agreed to stop buying Brazilian soybeans planted on newly-cleared forests. However, environmental activism in Brazil is a very dangerous undertaking, where the issue of life and death takes prevalence on what these activists stand for.