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Forest fires in the Amazon: what you can do

The worst forest fires in years are currently raging in Brazil. The Amazon, the green lung of our planet, is in danger. The Amazon rainforest produces 20% of the world's oxygen. The fires also threaten the incredible biodiversity and the lives of many indigenous population groups.

More than 72,000 fires have already been reported across the country this year. In addition to Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia are also affected by forest fires. The dry season and the current drought are favouring forest fires. However, the cause is considered to be deforestation and slash-and-burn agriculture in order to preserve grazing land for cattle breeding and cultivated land for animal feed. The fire was therefore deliberately started by humans. In recent years, an area of rainforest equivalent to three football pitches has disappeared every minute.

Whoever thinks that things have changed here in recent years and that a rethink is slowly taking place is mistaken. The forecasts for this year look even worse: Illegal deforestation is expected to increase by 45%. Unfortunately, the actions of the Brazilian government and President Jair Bolsonaro, who has been in office since the beginning of the year, are not helping to stop the catastrophe. Quite the opposite. The situation in the Amazon region is therefore set to worsen. Experience shows that even more forest fires can be expected in September.

If you would like to find out more about the situation in the Amazon, you can find up-to-date information here.

How can we help the Amazon?

Mainly responsible for this environmental catastrophe are the producers and consumers of meat. In addition to grazing land for cattle, the cleared rainforest areas are also used to grow animal feed (e.g. soya). Our domestic factory farming also consumes enormous quantities of animal feed. The European Union is one of the largest consumers of soya for animal feed. Global hunger for meat is growing and more and more land is being used for animal feed. Meanwhile, 1/3 of all agricultural land is used to grow animal feed.

The average meat consumption in the EU is 59 kg per capita per year. This includes 41.6 kg of soya. More than half of the soya exported worldwide comes from Brazil. It is therefore obvious what we can do to help the Amazon and preserve the rainforest. Renouncing or significantly limiting our consumption of animal products, especially meat. If we needed less land to grow animal feed, less forest would have to be cleared and the forecasts for the coming years would look much better.

Find out more about meat consumption in Germany and its effects here.

In addition, meat and dairy products are much more energy-intensive to produce and manufacture than plant-based foods and result in high greenhouse gas emissions. A study from 2018 came to the conclusion that meat is more harmful to the climate than the oil industry.

But the diverse use of palm oil is also repeatedly criticised. Detergents, cosmetics, ready meals and chocolate bars: almost no product can do without palm oil. Large areas of rainforest (particularly in Asia) are also cleared for this purpose.

More tips on how you can protect the rainforest in everyday life can be found here.