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The Canary in the Gold Mine

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Decimated forests, polluted rivers, and famine — how illegal mining activities resulted in a crisis for Brazil’s Indigenous people and the environment.

It is no secret, we are losing the Amazon — fast. While there are some indications that deforestation in Brazil has slowed under new leadership (which has promised to end deforestation by 2030), the consequences of the former government remain today.

Brazil was once a poster child for conservation. After the Amazon lost 28,000 square kilometers (10,800 square miles) in 2004, that number dropped significantly by 2012. But between 2019-2022, 34,000 square kilometers (13,000 square miles) were lost as President Jair Bolsonaro’s leadership cut funding to environmental agencies, championed industries driving deforestation, weakened Indigenous land rights and further promoted the exploitation of the land — including the extraction of natural resources, like gold.

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