New report on Amazon mafias draws on church-collected data on rural violence

Crux | 9/18/2019 | Staff
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ROME - Signaling a topic likely to surface during next month’s Synod of Bishops on the Amazon convened by Pope Francis, a human rights group has released a new report asserting that criminal gangs often are behind the destruction of the rainforest, menacing and even killing police, government officials and activists who try to stop them.

“Illegal deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is driven largely by criminal networks that have the logistical capacity to coordinate large-scale extraction, processing, and sale of timber, while deploying armed men to protect their interests,” the report states.

Enforcement - Officials - Groups - Mafias - Ipê

“Some environmental enforcement officials call these groups “ipê mafias,” referring to the ipê tree whose wood is among the most valuable and sought-after by loggers,” it says. “Yet these loggers’ quarry includes many other tree species - and their ultimate goal is often to clear the forest entirely to make room for cattle or crops.”

“The stakes of the showdown between the forest defenders and these criminal networks extend far beyond the Amazon, and even the borders of Brazil,” the report asserts.

World - Rainforest - Amazon - Role - Climate

“As the world’s largest tropical rainforest, the Amazon plays a vital role in mitigating climate change by absorbing and storing carbon dioxide,” it says. “When cut or burned down, the forest not only ceases to fulfill this function, but also releases back into the atmosphere the carbon dioxide it had previously stored.”

The Human Rights Watch report, titled “Rainforest Mafias,” draws on data collected by the Pastoral Land Commission, a non-profit group founded by progressive sectors of the Brazilian Catholic Church which has issued an annual report on human rights violations in rural sectors of the country since...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Crux
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