Satellite images presented that an illegal road through the Brazilian Amazon‘s protected land is about to connect two of the worst deforestation regions of the rainforest. If the road is completed, it will turn the remaining forest into island with increased pressure from human activity. 

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Environmentalists raised alarm about the possibility of the once giant rainforest turning into patches of forested land. When such roads are developed, they provide leeway for deforestation since it mostly starts alongside the roads. The new road will connect a patch of deforested land on the east side to another on the west. The municipality of Sao Felix do Xingu is home to the largest cattle herd of about 2.4 million and is the second-largest greenhouse gas emitter in the country.

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The protected area in between the two areas is the basin for River Xingu, which is a tributary to the Amazon. Although it begins in a drier area, the river meanders through protected areas, where it draws its life. Within this protected area, there also lives Indigenous communities that do not want to be bothered. However, it may not be long before things change.

“They come to deforest, to extract timber and to dig for gold,” Indigenous leader Mydjere Kayapo, as reported by Associated Press. He is part of the Kayapo who have been effected from loggers and gold miners. The rivers are contaminated with mud and mercury.

Furthermore, the new road was first detected by satellite images at the beginning of the year, according to nonprofit networks known as Xingu+. From January to August, images show that the protected area Terra do Meio through which the road cuts has already lost nine square miles of forest. Although the matter has been reported to the attorney general, little action has been taken by Brazilian officials. 

The opportunities for new deforestation “in the center of the corridor of protected areas of the Xingu brings the risk of an irreversible breaking of the Amazon rainforest, dividing it into islands of degraded forest, which does not have the strength to resist climate change,” said Biviany Rojas, the program coordinator of Socio-Environmental Institute, a Brazilian non-profit. “We need to protect and maintain large forest corridors to sustain the resilience of the threatened biome.” 

Via AP News

Lead image via Xingu + Network via AP