By Nayara Chaves
Gisele Esteban, Brazilian environmental lawyer, talks about slavery and deforestation at the heart of the planet: the Amazon rain forest.
Under the black surfaces and muddy rivers of the Amazon, 3,000 species of fish glide through the largest water basin in the world. In Brazilian territory only, at the margins of this incredible bio-diverse world, more than 20 million people make their living from the river. But the Brazilian rain forest is no safe haven.
Esteban worked throughout Latin America, she spent ten years of her life helping different companies protect the Amazon. But her job was not only about helping the countries’ natural resources, but also about protecting its people.
The forest ensures the survival of its inhabitants by providing food, shelter and natural medicines. But these people also need to be protected as well as abide to governmental laws, which according to Esteban, is not the case in vast areas of the rain forest.
Why should we protect the Amazon?
Esteban, who currently lives in the UK with her husband and stepdaughter, works freelance for a diversity of companies interested in the Amazon. Recently married to an Italian Chef, she says all she needs for now is to spend more time with her family.
The rain forest importance goes beyond its borders; the forest is instrumental in the global climate balance and directly influences the rainfall in Brazil and Latin America. Esteban has witnessed many cases that most people will never know about. She confirms that human slavery and illegal deforestation, are all commonplace in the Brazilian rain forest.
“Brazil has more than half of the Amazon rain forest on its territory, that is 4.2 million square kilometers in total. An equivalent of 49% of the country, and do you know what that means?” she asks. “That means it is pretty hard to keep an eye on a forest of that size.”
Follow the Link to see an interactive map of the Amazon:
According to a new census conducted this year, the number of enslaved workers used in illegal deforestation more than doubled since last year. Not coincidentally, the estate of Amazon is a region that has the highest rates of enslaved workers in the whole country, accounting for about 62% of reported cases.
Amongst the list of activities that make use of slave labor, are charcoal production and livestock – two sectors that insist on pegging its production to the devastation of forests.
The government has tried to address the problem, but for most of the Amazon the boundaries of the properties and their owners are still unknown, as most of them were merely occupied. Making it impossible to enforce the law.
“Land regularization is the definition by the state of who has the right to the land’s ownership. The first step is the mapping of private property to allow new deforestation monitoring and accountability of the entire production chain for environmental crimes occurred,” says Esteban.
Find out more about the Amazon.
In this short video containing satellite images provided by NASA you can see how deforestation has affected the Amazon in the past decade.
Did you know that the Amazon rain forest acts as a giant cleaner cleaning the air we need to survive? If the world could better preserve forests, the effects of global warming would not be so aggressive.
How familiar are you with global warming? Find out what people in the streets say about the subject.