In a year that brought unrelenting bad environmental news, with record global warming, searing heatwaves and fires, Marina Silva delivered a hopeful message on 3 August. Brazil’s environment and climate-change minister announced that there had been a 43% drop in deforestation alerts on the basis of satellite images of the Amazon rainforest between January and July 2023, compared with the same period in 2022. This was a sharp shift from the previous four years, which had seen a marked rise in such alerts.
The turnaround for environmental protections in Brazil started on 1 January, when Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva took office as president and Marina Silva assumed her current role. It’s her second time heading the ministry of the environment and climate change, which she ran previously between 2003 and 2008, during Lula da Silva’s first and second presidencies.
During her first time in office, Marina Silva tackled rampant forest-clearing activities by leading the development of the Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Deforestation in the Legal Amazon (PPCDAm) — a programme that achieved an 83% decrease in deforestation between 2004 and 2012 in the Brazilian Amazon.
But many of the protections she helped to put in place were dismantled by the government of Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s president from 2019 to 2022. During his term, the government issued 40% fewer fines for environmental crimes, and logging in the Amazon increased by about 60% compared with the four previous years. [Continue reading…]