Sugarcane decree poses latest threat to Brazilian biodiversity

sugarcane harvest mailson pignata
Sugarcane field in countryside Brazil. Photo: Mailson Pignata

2019 has been a year to forget for Brazilian environmentalists. The dismantling of protection agencies, uptick in Amazon forest fires and freezing of indigenous land demarcations have created a conjuncture in which Brazil’s environment is at risk. The sitting government’s latest move—issuing a decree to allow the cultivation of sugarcane in the Amazon and Pantanal regions—has come as another setback to those fighting to protect Brazil’s biodiversity, as the expansion of the crop could have catastrophic effects on these protected areas.

The decision to greenlight sugarcane cultivation for the production of ethanol comes as a suspension of a previous “zoning”...

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