Seven South American Countries Agree to Amazon Protection Plan

  • "The meeting will be remembered as a mechanism of cooperation between the presidents of the countries that share in this treasure— the Amazon," said Colombian President Ivan Duque.
  • According to the Brazilian Space Research Agency, the number of fires in the Amazon doubled from January to August compared to last year.
  • Mr. Bolsonaro has faced strong domestic and international criticism for failing to protect the area.

Amid global concerns over severe fires in the world’s largest rainforest, seven South American states have agreed on measures to protect the Amazon. Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, and Suriname have signed an agreement to establish a disaster response and satellite surveillance network.

At their summit in Colombia, they also agreed on forestry plans in the Amazon. More than 5,000 fires have occurred in the Amazon forests this year.

“The meeting will be remembered as a mechanism of cooperation between the presidents of the countries that share in this treasure— the Amazon,” said Colombian President Ivan Duque. “Empty goodwill is not enough anymore,” added Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra.

Iván Duque Márquez is a Colombian politician and lawyer who is the current President of Colombia. A member of the right-wing Democratic Center, Duque was elected as Colombia’s youngest president in 2018, on a campaign against the peace treaty with guerrilla group FARC.

The seven countries also agreed to spend more on educating and enhancing the role of indigenous communities. Brazilian right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro attended the meeting via video call, as he was preparing for surgery.

The Amazon, 60% of which is in Brazil, is one of the major sources of carbon dioxide absorption that slows down the global warming process. According to the Brazilian Space Research Agency, the number of fires in the Amazon doubled from January to August compared to last year.

Mr. Bolsonaro has faced strong domestic and international criticism for failing to protect the area. Environmental activists say his policies have led to increased fires this year, and that he has encouraged dairy farmers to cut large swathes of forest to create grassland since winning last year’s election.

Bolivia has also witnessed severe forest fires near the Brazilian-Paraguayan border. Meanwhile, Brazil’s leading meat and export industry group, joining the environmental campaign, called for an end to deforestation in the Amazon national areas and urged the government to take action. Several international suppliers have said they are suspending the purchase of Brazilian leather because of the link between dairy and fires in the Amazon.

Martín Vizcarra is a Peruvian engineer and politician who is the current President of Peru. A former member of the center-right Contigo party, Viscarra became president upon the resignation of his running mate, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, in 2018.

Deforestation Intensifies 

A new report on rising fires comes amid criticism of Mr. Bolsonaro’s environmental policies. Scientists say the Amazon’s demise has accelerated since the environmental policy came into force in January, which has been accompanied by development policy.

The Amazon, as the world’s largest tropical rainforest, is one of the most important sources of carbon capture, which slows global warming. Previous Brazilian governments have managed to reduce deforestation over the past decade.

However, last month, Mr. Bolsonaro accused the director of the Institute for Space Research of lying about the size of the Amazon forests and trying to undermine the government. It came after the agency released data showing a 6 percent increase in deforestation in June compared to the same period last year.

The director of the institute later said he was fired. The organization has already insisted that its data is 100% accurate and that several scientific institutions, including the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, have advocated the data to be reliable.

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Benedict Kasigara

I have been working as a freelance editor/writer since 2006. My specialist subject is film and television having worked for over 10 years from 2005 during which time I was the editor of the BFI Film and Television.


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