The international scientific community is “deeply concerned” about Brazil’s environmental policy under President Michel Temer, the head of the Society for Ecological Restoration said Friday.
“We have a deep concern right now, and I know many of the people of Brazil have a deep concern right now, with the roll-back of environmental protections and land protections, especially across Amazonia,” the group’s executive director Bethanie Walder told AFP.
The warning came after more than 1,000 environmental scientists from 65 countries met in Foz de Iguazu in southern Brazil for the SER’s seventh international congress.
The meeting coincided with Temer’s government being forced by a court to suspend a decree that would open up a vast natural reserve in the Amazon to commercial mining, following an outcry.
The American researcher said Brazil was in danger of disregarding the consequences of the destruction of its ecosystems, particularly in the Amazon.
“This is not a problem that is unique to Brazil but it is a very disturbing trend after many years of moving forward and seeing deforestation in the Amazon go down, and now we’re starting to see it go up again. And so there is a real challenge that we could have very serious unintended consequences,” she said.
The final statement of the four-day event urges immediate restoration work, but warns that “ecological restoration will not be enough to reverse a global environmental crisis if we do not stop the destruction of the ecosystem.”
The SER called for creating appropriate legislation to that end and ensuring an active role for indigenous communities in the implementation of environmental policies.
“Brazil was in a leading position in Latin America but now we only see significant setbacks in environmental policy,” said Vera Lex Engel, president of the World Conference on Restoration.
The Brazilian researcher questioned the growing lack of means for environmental monitoring, in the context of drastic budget cuts ordered by Temer.