Disrespect and vandalism cause hazardous consequences.
The destruction of forests and global warming propagate diseases caused by mosquitoes such as dengue and malaria.
By invading forests, humans came across unknown viruses such as AIDS HIV, which spread all over the world from chimpanzees hunting living in African jungles.

In many parts of the world, including Europe and USA, forests have been destroyed in the sake of progress, giving their places to plantations, pastures, cities, industries, power plants, highways, etc.


Absolute leader in the Earth’s biodiversity, Brazil has almost 12% of the entire planet’s natural life. It concentrates 55 thousand species of upper plants (22% of the world’s species), many of them endemic (only existing there, nowhere else); 524 mammal species; over 3 thousand freshwater fish species; between 10 and 15 million insects (most of them yet to be described); and more than 70 species of parrots. (Conservation International)

Four of the richest biomes of the planet are present in Brazil: Atlantic Forest, Scrubland (Cerrado), Amazonia and Wetlands (Pantanal). Unfortunately, they are all at risk. The Atlantic Forest goes along the Brazilian coast, from Rio Grande do Sul to Rio Grande do Norte. It keeps only 7% of its original extension and the Scrubland has only 20% of its area still untouched. Those two areas are considered hotspots, that is, conservation priority areas, with rich biodiversity but threatened at the highest level. The implementation of biodiversity corridors is the chief strategy used by CI-Brasil NGO to direct conservation actions in the Hotspots and Large Natural Regions.
The water springs that supply many Brazilian states are in the Atlantic Forest.
The Scrubland is the world’s richest savannah, with a large biodiversity, and hydro-resources which are valuable to Brazil. In its highlands are the springs of the main rivers of the Amazon, Prata and São Francisco basins.

Brazil has the biomes (biological communities) of Amazon, Caatinga, Cerrado (Scrubland), Pantanal (Wetlands), Mata Atlântica (Atlantic Forest), Pampa (Southern Lowlands) and Coastal, 49 ecoregions, already classified, and a number of ecosystems.
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In the whole world, around 13 million hectares of forests are lost every year, especially in South America and Africa. Brazil was the country with most devastated forests between 2000 and 2005. (FAO)

The Amazon :
- Is the largest rain forest on the planet.
- Spreads itself over an area of 6.4 million square km in South America.
- 63% are in Brazil and the remaining is distributed in Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela, Guiana, Suriname, Ecuador and French Guiana.
- Includes the Brazilian states of Acre, Amapá, Amazonas, Mato Grosso, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima, Tocantins and Maranhão – The Legal Amazon contains 61% of the Brazilian territory (5,217,423 sq km).
- Has 20 million inhabitants (IBGE, 2000) and low demographic density.
- Keeps about one fifth of the world’s freshwater reserves. The Amazon River is the world’s largest in water volume.
- Mega-biodiversity : rich in plant and animal species.
- Absorbs carbon, therefore reducing the consequences of the global climate changes.
- Enormous potential of plants yet to be discovered for use in pharmaceutics, cosmetics, chemistry, food, etc.

Threats : illegal land occupation by means of fake documents, deforestation, fires, predatory wood mills, expansion of cattle raising and agriculture (soy beans, especially in Mato Grosso), insufficient surveillance, impunity, uncontrolled fishing and hunting, animal trafficking. The forest is vulnerable to the effects of global warming.

According to IBAMA,
the soil natural fertility is low. The Amazon Forest is a self-sustainable ecosystem. It keeps its own nutrients in permanent cycle. There is a delicate balance in the relations of the biological populations which are sensitive to anthropic disturbances. Amazon has a large variety of ecosystems, among them dry forests, flooded forests, igapos, open fields and scrubs. Consequently, Amazon has a very large number of plant and animal species: 1.5 million catalogued plant species; three thousand fish species; 950 kinds of birds; and a number of insects, reptiles, amphibians and mammals...

The destruction of rain forests, in addition to reducing the planet’s biodiversity, causes erosions, degrades hydrographic basin areas, releases carbon gas to atmosphere, and causes social and environmental disequilibrium. The reduction of humidity in the Amazon reduces rainfall in the Brazilian Center-Southern region.


In 2004, the wood and sawmills sector extracted as much as 6.2 million trees. After processing, especially in Pará, Mato Grosso and Rondônia, the Amazon wood goes to domestic (64%) and international (36%) markets. Pará is the main Amazon wood producer, representing 45% of total and concentrates 51% of the wood companies.
The industrialization occurs along the main transportation routes of Amazon. Some of the most serious problems are the migratory character of the sector and the poor forest management techniques. Wood companies have been constructing thousands of kilometers of non-official roads in public lands, facilitating illegal occupation. (IMAZON)

The amount of environmental fines imposed and effectively paid in Amazon is very low.

Between 1990 and 2003, the growth rate of the cattle raising activity in Legal Amazon increased 140%, from 26.6 million heads to 64 million cattle heads. The average growth rate was 10 times as much as that of the rest of the country, and corresponds now to 33% of the total. Mato Grosso, Pará and Rondônia were the main producers in the period. In 2000, most of the meat produced in Amazon was intended to the domestic market, especially Northeastern and Southeastern regions. However, export demand is growing. (IMAZON)

According to the Ministry of Environment (2007), 75% of the Amazon deforested area is used for cattle raising. There are 70 million heads of bovines, one third of them in Mato Grosso. The occupation rate is around a head per hectare.

Brazil is the world’s largest exporter and second largest consumer of beef.

Degraded pastures have been converted into agriculture. Cattle raisers sell their land to soy bean agriculturists and deforest more land.

The Mato Grosso river basins have already lost 32% to 43% of their original vegetal cover (IMAZON and ICV, 2006).

Fire spots can be seen at The website shows the most recently detected fires from satellite images. Data are updated several times a day. 
In Brazil, almost all wild fires are caused by humans, for several reasons: pasture clearing, planting preparation, deforestation, settlement disputes, vandalism, and sugarcane manual harvesting (it requires mechanization to avoid burning), among others.
In illegal deforestation, fire is out of control (without barriers to control fire propagation) resulting in major wildfires.
Other irresponsible practices : launching fire balloons, using candle lights in wild areas, throwing lit cigarette stubs along roads, leaving campfire unattended and recklessness in the use of fire.
The smoke produced by wildfires accounts for thousands of hospital admissions.

The Department of Atmospheric Sciences of the São Paulo State University (USP) has detected that soot from Amazon wildfires is taken by wind to the country’s Center-Southern region and to the Atlantic Ocean.

The reduction of deforestation rates between 2004 and 2006 was the result of official efforts (such as the creation of conservation units and increased surveillance) and the recession experienced by the agro-business in the period.

Brazil managed to reduce deforestation of the Amazon forest by 19,000 sq km in 2005 and a little more than 13,000 sq km in 2006, according to INPE – National Institute of Space Research.

The forest has already lost almost 20% of its original size - 700 thousand square kilometers have been deforested. (Imazon, 2007)

In an effort to reduce land disputes and illegal deforestation in the Amazon, the government of Pará has created seven forest conservation units consisting of one of the largest environmental protection areas in the world, with around 15 million hectares. The respective decrees were signed on December 4, 2006.

What we can do about :

Environmental aggressions, such as wild fires, can be reported to IBAMA through the Green Line 0800-61-8080. Learn more in the website .

When purchasing forest products such as wood and paper, look for the logo of the Council of Forest Management (FSC) to assure that the products come from forests managed according to strict, non-predatory criteria. The green logo certifies the use of extraction techniques that respect forest regeneration cycles. The website has a list with all certified companies.

Reducing the consumption of meat in general also helps to fight deforestation. Much of the soy bean production is used to feed livestock such as poultry and pig breeding. In addition to being good for your health, a vegetal diet causes less negative impacts to the environment. By eating less red meat, for instance, you contribute to reducing the need of new pasture areas. Besides that, 20 thousand liters of treated water are used in the production of each kilogram of beef. (AKATU)

Ask your butcher or supermarket for the origin of the beef you buy there.

Avoid using products made of animal leather. Search for alternatives such as vegetal leather (ecological) made of latex.
Reduce the paper consumption. Prefer recycled paper.
Avoid wasting food so that agriculture does not need to expand their borders into native forests.
Businesspeople should not purchase illegal wood, without the forest origin certificate.
A large part of the illegally extracted wood is sold at building material depots. Pay attention when building or remodeling your home.
Buy only durable furniture and keep them for a long time.

Don’t buy orchids, bromeliads, plant fibers and palm hearts without their certificates of origin. They are endangered species and can only be sold if cultivated for that specific purpose.
The Jucara palm heart from the Atlantic Forest is extracted in a predatory way. Its palm tree is endangered.
Try not to purchase non-industrialized palm hearts, especially those sold along highways.
Do not accept industrialized palm hearts which are not registered in the Ministry of Health or Ibama. Don’t take chances with your health. Botulism is a food intoxication caused by palm hearts produced without the necessary hygiene conditions. Fight the illegal palm heart.
The Jucara tree dies after the palm heart is extracted. Peach-palm and Acai, from the Amazon Forest, regenerate after the extraction.
Do not acquire real estate within Atlantic Forest protected areas.

The organized civil society can demand from the government the intensification of efforts such as :
-  to increase funds for surveillance of illegally occupied land (more investments for a more effective presence in Amazon : Ibama, Federal Police and Army, especially along illegal roads and critical areas detected by satellite);
- to fight the predatory wood extraction (punishment of lawbreakers including corruptors inside the government, equipment seizure);
- to organize the proprietorship chaos in the region and conciliate socio-economic growth with environmental protection;
- to halt the advancement of new pasture areas over the forests in the region;
- to inspect and enforce the environmental laws and to require the recovery of deforested areas by those who caused the devastation;
- to protect the indigenous rights and their lands;
- to create conservation units especially where there is the threat of predatory expansion.

Conservation Units are divided in 2 groups :
- Integral Protection Units (Ecological Station, Biological Reserve, National Park, Natural Monument and
Wildlife Sanctuary).
- Sustainable Use Units (Environmental Protection Area, Relevant Ecological Interest Area, National Forest, Extractivist Reserve, Fauna Reserve, Sustainable Development Reserve and Private Reserve of Natural Patrimony). IBAMA

Sustainable development projects are important to generate jobs and income for the communities that live in the gigantic Amazon area. The respect to the region’s fragile ecological balance is a fundamental prerequisite.

By acquiring their craftsmanship, visitors contribute to the people living in the region.

Ecotourism has a large potential for growth. Travelers from all over the world can give prestige to such activity in the Amazon and in many other exuberant natural regions of Brazil such as Fernando de Noronha, Bonito, Pantanal (Wetlands), Cataratas do Iguaçu (Iguaçu Falls), Lençóis Maranhenses, Jericoacoara, etc.

Learn more on the Amazon condition at the website . The Imazon’s mission is to promote the sustainable development of the Amazon region by means of applied studies, support to the creation of public policies, wide dissemination of information and professional qualification.

The living forest helps adjust the climate, the temperature, the humidity and rainfalls. It absorbs carbon gas from the atmosphere, a valuable contribution to the world’s climate balance which deserves to be appreciated.
Preserving the Amazon is preserving plant, animal and human lives.

Tráfico de Animais Silvestres

Amazonia : Photos, videos and more (see end of page).

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