Environmentalists are deeply worried about Brazil's Brazil's government newly proposed bill that aims to reduce the boundaries of a national forest in the Amazonian state of Para.
If the bill is approved, the legislation would open up 860,000 acres of a protected national forest in the Para area to logging, mining and agricultural use.
Carlos Xavier, president of a group in Para lobbying to reduce the size of the Jamanxim forest, said the proposal would bring "economic progress" to the region.
But environmental activists are concerned the move could inflame violence against land defenders in a region considered “one of the most violent conservation units in Amazonia."
According to Jair Schmitt, general coordinator of Environmental Inspection at Ibama, Brazil’s environmental protection agency, "this region has professional killers involved in deforestation in the mining and pillaging of public lands."
In June, two land activists were murdered and a transporter carrying vehicles for Ibama was torched. In the first week of July, another transporter carrying eight vehicles for Ibama, was set on fire while parked in Cachoeira da Serr, in Para.
Luciano Evaristo, Ibam’s director, told the Guardian, “They set it on fire while the driver was in it. He nearly got burned alive, he opened the door, it was burning.”
Global Witness, a nonprofit that exposes economic networks responsible for the conflict, corruption and environmental abuse, has also condemned the proposal.
"The ruthless scramble for the Amazon’s natural wealth makes Brazil, once again, the world’s deadliest country in terms of sheer numbers killed," the organization said in a statement on their website.
According to Global Witness, in 2016, Brazil recorded 49 environmentalists deaths, higher than any other country.