Brazilian special forces fight back against Amazon deforestation.

In Brazil's Amazon, a small, specialized unit takes bold steps to protect Indigenous lands from illegal miners.

Jon Lee Anderson reports for The New Yorker.


In short:

  • Armed environmentalists of the Specialized Inspection Group (G.E.F.) are combating illegal mining in the Amazon, led by Felipe Finger.
  • Their operations, supported by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, target the destruction of miners' camps and equipment to protect the Yanomami territory.
  • Despite their efforts, illegal mining persists, fueled by high gold prices and sophisticated equipment, including Starlink systems for coordination.

Key quote:

"Wherever they go, the miners destroy everything, entire river systems. And they do it at the expense of these highly vulnerable people."

— Felipe Finger, leader of the G.E.F.

Why this matters:

Brazil has experienced a 34% drop in Amazon deforestation under President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's leadership, indicating a positive shift toward environmental preservation. However, challenges such as the El Niño phenomenon, which increases the risk of forest fires, remain. Lula has also pledged to end net deforestation in the Amazon by 2030, emphasizing the need for law enforcement and investment in sustainable, community-managed productive chains to support conservation efforts.

Be sure to read our 2020 coverage: Massive, vital ecosystems that have existed for thousands of years could breakdown in just a few decades, according to a new study.

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