Deforestation proponents in Brazil routinely argue that cutting down the Amazon is an effective way to alleviate poverty. For example, the Bolsonaro administration’s official statement to the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference asserted that “where there is a lot of forest there is also a lot of poverty”, implying that forest cover is inversely correlated to human well-being. Yet solid evidence to support this claim is rarely offered. Ahead of Brazil’s election this coming Sunday, which pits Jair Bolsonaro, who has presided over a steep rise in deforestation, against Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who oversaw a sharp drop in Amazon forest clearing and has made saving the Amazon a key part of his campaign, a group of us led by Darren Norris of the Federal University of Amapá decided to see what the data says about links between deforestation and poverty in the Amazon. Specifically we wanted to see whether the arguments advanced by deforestation proponents hold up to scrutiny. Fire near the Manicoré River in Amazonas state in August 2022. Photo © Christian Braga / Greenpeace To do this, we looked at forest change and economic indicators for nearly 800 municipalities covering almost five million hectares in the Brazilian Amazon from 2002 to 2019. We used average salary, the existence of sanitation plans, and internet connectivity as the economic indicators for evaluating this question. This is not a comprehensive, but it is a serviceable proxy for economic development. We found no association between forest loss and these…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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