Deforestation Is A Lucrative Business In Brazil’s Amazon Forests

Amazon fires
A fire burns a tract of the Amazon jungle in Agua Boa, Mato Grosso state, Brazil September 4, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Lucas Landau)

A new report was released late Wednesday, revealing that deforestation is a million-dollar business that's been running in Brazil's Amazon rainforests. Farmers said a cleared one-hectare lot sells for 20 times more than lands with trees.

In a report by BuzzFeed News, it was revealed that the land-selling business in the Amazonas state of Apui is going strong. For forested land areas, around 2.5 hectares can be purchased for an estimated $120 or 500 Brazilian reals.

If a buyer opts for 2.5 hectares of land cleared of forests, the prices can go up to $2,430 or 10,000 Brazilian reals. The prices range, depending on if the land for sale has access to irrigation or if it is close to the highway.

The report noted that most of the sales transactions are done illegally, adding further doubts to the Brazilian government's claims that it is working to stop deforestation in the Amazonian rainforests.

Ranchers from outside Brazil are now continuously looking into the country's land and cattle sectors. In Apui alone, the proportion of oxen to an individual farmer is eight to one.

Apui also has low-income rates. However, people are being paid around $120 for two days of working on clearing forest lands. Trees will be cut and later burned as part of the clearing process.

The rampant deforestation in the Amazon brought around continuous fires that environmentalists said were initiated by farmers. The new report seems to confirm the earlier predictions of prevalent deforestation in Brazil.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is in the middle of the outcry over the Amazon fires. He is a well-known skeptic of climate change and has also accused concerned organizations and governments of improper intervention amid the Amazonian forests' demise.

While fires take place annually in the Amazon forests, this year recorded the most number of blazes in Brazil. Last Thursday, the government banned burning but within two days since the ban, around 2,000 new fires were started, the Daily Mail reported.

A total of 3,859 new fires started from Thursday's ban through Sunday but an estimated 2,000 of the infernos were within the Amazonian rainforests. The National Space Research Institute said that of the 88,816 fires recorded from January to August, 51.9 percent were in the forest lands.

A $20 million fund has been pledged by the G-7 member countries but Bolsonaro said he will reject the assistance until French President Emmanuel Macron apologizes for criticizing him and his government.

It remains to be seen how the government will act on rampant deforestation as a business in Brazil. Bolsonaro has yet to comment on the new report.

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