Palm oil plantations are growing in the northern Amazon and the army seems to be in charge of the forest.

While palm oil plantations are not currently the people doing the clearing in this part of the Amazon, the fact that they are desperate for land means that other people (be them soya farmers or or cattle farmers) find the risk of clearing land is worth it as they know they will be able to sell it to the palm oil plantations.

Much of the invaded land is actually indigenous areas. This has many issues. These invasions bring them into close proximity with people from outside, leading to regular outbreaks of illness. They are also extremely worried about the large quantities of pesticides these palm oil plantations use. Given that much of this land is actually indigenous, it would seem that it should be an incredibly simple legal matter to throw them off it.

It is an obvious lie to say they have reduced deforestation, if these palm oil plantation companies managed to make other people deforest so that they can then use the land. 

Palm oil might be useful for some sort of cooking, however it is not the answer to replace petrol or diesel. Growing enough to do that would mean cutting down the majority of the remaining rainforest on the planet and this would lead to global warming which the human race could not cope with (not to mention at this global warming would like to kill off the palm oil plantations anyway).

Areas of land that have been illegally cleared, should not be considered acceptable for palm oil plantations. They must be re forested, this is the only sensible way of handling this. What’s more the people who destroyed the rainforest must be made to pay for its replanting.

It should also be noted that this government in Brazil has talked a lot about removing protections for the Amazon. The army has been working in the Amazon rainforest supposedly to combat the forest fires that have broken out. Of course they have no interested in halting the logging which is causing the riots that is another matter. In April they pulled out – supposedly job done. Yet their operation cost five times more than the environmental protection agency was given, partly because virtually all of this money was spent on on already demarcated areas and national parks and not on the logging that is going on outside these areas (land seizures).

At the same time the government is engaged in “modernity and progress” as the “order of the day”. However this focus is on expanding industrial activity.

One of the most stupid things that have been announced, is a list of the 11 most impacted areas – these were known about before this project began yet have been heralded as as concrete evidence of progress. 

Under the armies watch at least one group of indigenous people have been wiped out (in the name of covid protection apparently) and have even been used as an air taxi service to ferry minors to a meeting with the president in his palace. There have also been a push to put ex-military man into top positions in these environmental organisations (a clear move to try to weaken them from within).

Most alarmingly under the army’s view there is no space for indigenous people in the forest. 

Another issue is that Jair Bolsonaro have refused to have anything to do with REDD schemes, which allow countries from around the world to offset some of their emissions and pay Brazil for the privilege. This money usually goes into the communities that are protecting the trees, but as the government has refused to get involved little money has made it through. Thankfully a voluntary REDD scheme has filled the gap, and there is a boom in the carbon credit industry in Brazil.

There are prosecutors still try to do the job, for instance there is a group who have stated they will use the evidence gathered by the wildlife news organisation Mongabay to hold a palm oil producer accountable for water pollution, they have caused. This is unfortunately one small positive glimmer in a sea of destruction.

THERE IS HOPE: Bolsonaro faces re-election next year, and he is incredibly unpopular in many parts of the population. Having said that he goes in originally through a mix of intimidation and lies and there is much to fear that this will be a repeat. The world was not really watching when he was first elected we must be this time.

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