The size of Brazil means you don't have to look hard to find responsible, authentic experiences away from all inclusive high-rise hotels and cavernous cruise ships. The North-East's Chapada Diamantina, a vast, relatively undiscovered region of mountains, crystal clear rivers, waterfalls and caverns, boasts some of the country's best hiking trails, Cadomblé celebrations...
Deforestation rates peaked in 2004 and fell steadily for almost ten years. But the loggers didn't go away. They just got smarter. Despite the government's interventions, most of the logging in the Brazilian Amazon was still illegal. The loggers learned how to game the systems put in place to keep illegal timber out of the market. They found crooked sawmills to launder their illegal timber, and exporters that didn't care where their products they sold came from... The scale of illegal logging in the Amazon is astounding. In the state of Pará, almost 80% of logging is believed to be illegal.
We are connected to this world in more ways than imaginable, in the ground and in the air; everything is made up of the basic building blocks of life, carbon, oxygen and nitrogen. Trees are one of these givers of life, and how humans and trees correspond to give each other life is one of the most fundamental, yet essential aspects of ecology that much of the world lets slip from their minds...
Over the first week of the UN climate change negotiations in Poland we have seen the alarming results of studies showing increased decline of tropical forests. It is clear from newly available data from satellite monitoring stations that there are now growing areas being deforested as a result of illegal logging, agriculture and mining.
The Amazon rainforest is the largest gathering of trees on the planet, covering 5,500,000 square kilometers. The area is vast, spread across nine countries: the majority in Brazil (60%), followed by 13% in Peru 10% in Colombia and other small variants in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.
The recent laboratory development of an in-vitro beef burger created from stem cells is causing quite a buzz amongst consumers. Most people's first reaction is one of disgust and trepidation. And then the many questions: how can I eat meat that was grown in a lab made possible only by human engineering?
We walk two hours through the rainforest to reach the rubber tapper's house, exploring a day in his life. It's beautiful though exhausting. Jaguars hidden, the magic is in the detail. A tree lined by mushrooms. Butterfly shaped leaves. A tree wrapped around another, a lover's embrace. Patterns of holes in leaves like a design studio stencil. With the kindest face and a rifle on his back, the rubber tapper leads me into the forest to show me how he extracts rubber from Seringueira trees.
Now, as never before, is the time to re-integrate nature's economy with our own so that, instead of living dangerously off nature's rapidly diminishing capital, we draw a sustainable income from the wise management of that precious capital. Now is the time for focussed, integrated thinking and for collective, decisive action.