Rio de Janiero/London – Indigenous lands in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest are absorbing far more climate change gases than they emit. This is in stark contrast to non-indigenous areas, which mean that Amazonian lands are driving global emissions.
According to the World Resources Institute (WRI), Brazil’s primary forests, which cover more than a quarter of the Amazon region, emitted nearly four times as much carbon dioxide (CO2) and other gases between 2001 and 2021. has been removed.
The findings show that newly elected left-wing president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva has been criticized for deforestation after a nearly 60% increase in deforestation during the four-year tenure of his far-right predecessor Jair Bolsonaro. Brought to you when you listed tackling destruction as a top priority.
On Sunday, tens of thousands of anti-democratic demonstrators who refused to accept defeat in Bolsonaro’s October elections invaded the Supreme Court, Congress and the presidential palace to put the former president back in power. and
An uprising that mirrored a 2021 attack on the U.S. Congress by supporters of defeated President Donald Trump was eventually dissolved, and Lula promised to punish those involved.
In Brazil, the Amazon forests are being lost to deforestation and degradation due to expanding agriculture, mining and other activities, especially on non-indigenous lands, WRI said.
According to a US-based think tank, indigenous peoples in Brazil’s Amazon forest remove 172 million tonnes more greenhouse gases than they emit annually, while non-indigenous areas remove 300 million more than they absorb. 75 million tons more.
Peter Bate, director of WRI’s Land and Resource Rights Initiative, said in an interview, “If you look at Amazonian lands outside the lands of indigenous peoples, they are collectively a source of[emissions]. I am very surprised by that.
Scientists warn that the Amazon is nearing a tipping point of desiccation and conversion to savannah, from which it may never recover.
Lula has promised to halt that trend – a reversal of Bolsonaro’s push for expansion of mining and agriculture in the Amazon.
“Without a protected Amazon, there is no global climate security,” he said in a speech at the UN COP27 climate summit in November.
Among his first decisions as president, Lula reinstated the authority of the government’s environmental protection agency, Ibama, to combat illegal deforestation, and to unfreeze a $1 billion fund for sustainability projects in the Amazon. bottom.
According to WRI, detailed mapping has made it possible for the first time to estimate and compare carbon emissions and sequestration between indigenous and non-indigenous regions of the Amazon.
WRI Research Associate David Gibbs notes that while indigenous-held forests do not absorb CO2 from the atmosphere more efficiently, communities in those areas “are more It really makes a difference,” he said.
The Amazon forests, managed by indigenous peoples in all nine countries that make up the Amazon region, removed 340 million tons more greenhouse gases annually than they emitted. This is equivalent to the UK’s annual emissions from fossil fuels.
Txai Suruí, an indigenous youth leader from the Amazonian state of Rondonia, said protected rainforest areas inhabited by indigenous communities are much better protected.
Her community, under attack and neglected by state institutions under the Bolsonaro regime, stepped up its own surveillance efforts to protect the territory.
In areas without indigenous protection, there was no such monitoring help, she said.
Luana Kumarara, from Pará state in the Amazon, is not officially recognized as an indigenous people, but lives in an area claimed by the Kumarara tribe, who have protected their land through “territorial self-definition.” said.
“Protecting Mother Earth is part of our upbringing, so our indigenous areas are immune to agribusiness, deforestation and fire. We do not use it as capital.”
But Veit warns that deforestation rates must also be curbed on non-indigenous lands in the coming years to avoid collapse of the Amazon ecosystem.
“Indigenous peoples cannot be the only saviors of the Amazon,” he said.
Scientists believe that if 20% to 25% of the original Amazonian forest canopy were lost, the region would disappear from the rainforest, thousands of species would become extinct, and vast amounts of CO2 would be released into the atmosphere. I believe it can be released.
A 2021 report on the state of the Amazon Basin by more than 200 scientists estimates that about 17% of the forest canopy has been lost to date.
Renowned environmental activist Tarcisio Feitosa says recognizing more land as indigenous is an important way to promote forest conservation. This is not only because of community efforts, but also because it imposes more legal barriers on the way of deforested land.
Delimiting land as indigenous peoples “provides great legal certainty,” he said.
(Reporting by Jack Graham and Andre Cabette Fabio, Editing by Kieran Guilbert and Laurie Goering. The Thomson Reuters Foundation is the charitable foundation of Thomson Reuters. See https://www.context.news/).