Surge in forest loss seen if Brazil indigenous reserves opened to mining

Published on Thomson Reuters Foundation

A Brazilian government proposal to open indigenous land in Brazil to mining concessions could lead to the loss of forests over an area larger than England, researchers said Friday.

Such a loss would reduce by $5 billion a year the global benefits the forest provides in terms of things such as forest products, rainfall generation and storage of climate-changing emissions, they estimated.

“The impact would be direct for indigenous communities, but mainly for society in general. The entire planet would be affected,” said Juliana Siqueira-Gay, a University of São Paulo environmental engineer and lead author of the study published Friday in the science journal One Earth.

A bill introduced in Brazil’s Congress in February proposes opening indigenous land in the Amazon and elsewhere to mining, hydroelectric plants, oil and gas projects and livestock farming.

Such development could be carried out over the objections of indigenous communities living on the land, according to the bill, supported by large numbers of members of Congress aligned with agribusiness and extractive industries.

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