The ‘lungs of the planet’ as the Amazon rain forest is known, is a classic example of how unspoiled nature is seen as both a source and a barrier to economic growth and the source of wealth generation. This article sets out the complicated factors in the battle between the exploiters and the preservers of the Amazon rain forest.
Over the past few decades the international community has watched as the destruction of Earth’s largest forest has intensified. Deforestation has been eating away at the Amazon’s fringes, mainly for commercial cattle ranching and agricultural plantation. The agriculture, livestock, mining and infrastructure sectors have been promoted due to powerful financial and development pressures for high profits and economic growth.
Meanwhile, indigenous peoples, traditional communities and smallholders have had their livelihoods imperilled, while carbon emissions have increased, water quality and quantity have declined, forest fires have increased, and wildlife has been lost.
Brazil’s government is making efforts to stem the drive from wealth-seekers to use the forest for profit but the motivation of private gain is as usual hard to stem in the interests of the public good. In this case, the public good can be seen as the good for all humanity, given the importance of maintaining the health of ‘the planet’s green lung’.