Salgado, his call to save the Amazon


The great Franco-Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado makes an international appeal. We relay it here.

"These fires are suicidal for Brazil and the world. It is high time to stop this madness. Many fires do not happen by chance but are the result of a barbaric and methodical destruction. First, men infiltrate the forest and cut the largest trees by chainsaw. Then two bulldozers connected by a huge chain make the rest fall. By doing so, land clearers can cut down thousands of hectares in a matter of weeks. They wait for it to dry, and during the least rainy season, from July to October, they set fire to it. The land will be converted to pasture and, to a lesser extent, soybeans for animal feed. Brazil is the world's largest exporter of beef and soy. Already giant farms are growing at the expense of the forest because their owners feel encouraged to do so by the new Brazilian leader, Jair Bolsonaro. Some farmers say bluntly: "Let's help the president, let's burn the Amazon!" We know that this ecosystem plays a major role in climate regulation. And not only as a carbon sink. "I started working in this rainforest thirty-five years ago. Since 2013, I devote most of my reports. They will be gathered in several major exhibitions on the Amazon in 2021. I hope they will serve as a basis for real discussions on the issue. "


It's a question of survival for the planet


"President Bolsonaro believes he will develop Brazil by destroying this forest. It's an old-fashioned, archaic, short-termist vision. To make the Amazon disappear, of which 65% of the surface is located in Brazil, is to threaten with drought its agriculture. This ecosystem so rich in biodiversity can give organic products, substances useful for cosmetics, the pharmaceutical industry … But this president was elected by agribusiness, which seeks immediate profits. And by the Evangelical Churches, who dream of "saving the souls" of the Indians by converting them! For the tribes, it's a disaster. In addition to fires, their ancestral lands are invaded by gold miners, whose activity poisons streams. Jair Bolsonaro wants to destroy the reserves. He cuts the budgets of critical institutions for the Amazon, places his men in key positions, reduces controls and sanctions. Then the farmers say that they are no longer in danger of destroying the forest. "However, I remain hopeful. It is not a dictator but an elected president, who does not have all the powers. If 20% of the Brazilian surface of the Amazon has been destroyed in half a century, there is 80% left that we can save! The current fires are serious, and they will nibble a little more, but not make everything disappear in a summer. Many compare these blazes to that of Notre-Dame and deplore that they do not raise the same financial mobilization. I live in Paris and I was terribly touched by the fire of the cathedral, but it has nothing to do with what is happening in Brazil. For the Amazon, the answer must be political. The European Union has just signed a trade agreement with Mercosur [Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay]. This agreement will encourage Brazil to destroy more and more forest to export more to Europe. But it still needs to be ratified by every EU member state. I therefore call them, especially France, to sign nothing until a strict clause protecting the Amazon is added. Each of the French can do his part. I ask them all to mobilize, by putting pressure on their elected officials to refuse to sign the current treaty. It's a question of survival for the planet. "

Lélia and Sebastião Salgado

Lélia and Sebastião Salgado © Philippe Petit

See as well :Lélia and Sebastião Salgado resurrect the forest

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