Brazilian Environment Min to Open up 860K Acres of Amazonian Rainforest to Loggers

Amazon - Brazil
Amazon - Brazil | © Neil Palmer/CIAT-CIFOR/Flickr
Euan Marshall

President of Brazil Michel Temer has presented a bill in National Congress which would dramatically reduce the protected areas of Jamanxim Forest in Brazil’s northern Amazon region, opening up the area of conservation to private industry and exploitation. Here’s everything you need to know to bring you up to speed.

What the law means

If the law passes, which is likely, then 860,000 acres of the Jamanxim National Forest – a large section of the Amazon rainforest in the state of Pará – will be demoted to Environmental Protection Area status. This is the lowest level of official environmental protection in Brazil, which would allow for private ownership of the land and the legalization of mining, farming and logging activities.

The president’s decision comes just one month after Mr. Temer vetoed two provisional presidential decrees to reduce the size of Jamanxim’s protected areas. At the time of the veto, Mr. Temer was under significant pressure from environmentalists, and his rejection of the decrees came on the eve of a state visit to Norway to discuss Amazon conservation.

Jamanxim National Forest, Brazil


The Jamanxim National Forest is currently just over 2 million acres, and was created in 2006 during the presidency of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, with a view to protecting the area from logging interests. Since its creation, the forest has been subject to constant illegal activity, such as logging, farming, small-scale mining and fraudulent land-grabbing known in Brazil as grilagem. Now, these practices are set to be made legal in over 30% of the forest’s area.

Illegal activity

In fact, if this bill passes, it is precisely those involved in grilagem who will benefit most. The practice involves the forgery of documentation pertaining to certain pieces of land. Traditionally, grileiros would make fraudulent deeds in the names of businessmen and leave the papers in an envelope with crickets (grilos in Portuguese) to slightly damage the documents and give them an authentic, antique appearance. While the insects are no longer required, the practice is still common, especially in Jamanxim, giving farmers, loggers and other businesses a fraudulent legal claim to the once-protected Amazonian land.

Past actions

The previous proposal to reduce the protected areas of the Jamanxim Forest was the subject of great outrage from environmental organizations and activists, with Greenpeace, the WWF and even Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen putting pressure on Mr. Temer via social media. When Mr. Temer announced he would veto the decrees, he did so via Twitter, directly mentioning the supermodel and the WWF.

Illegal logging in Jamanxim National Forest, Brazil

Bündchen replied thanking the “Honorable Mr. President” for vetoing the decrees but warned that the issue could return in the form of a bill in Congress, which one month later has now come to pass.

Mr. Temer traveled to Norway the following week, where he was informed the country would be cutting its investments in Brazil’s anti-deforestation Amazon Fund. With Amazon deforestation increasing almost 60% in the last two years, other major investors in the fund, such as Germany, are expected to follow suit and decrease their funding.

Political issues

The presentation of this bill is a clearly politically-charged maneuver on behalf of Brazil’s president. Mr. Temer has been charged with passive corruption by the Attorney General Rodrigo Janot, and desperately needs the support of the Brazilian Congress in order to vote down Mr. Janot’s indictment in Parliament. The agricultural and ruralist caucus is one of the largest in Congress, with 230 representatives in Brazil’s lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, where Mr. Temer requires 172 votes in his favor to make the charges disappear.

Brazil’s President Michel Temer, who is facing corruption charges

Since taking power in a parliamentary coup in 2016, ousting former president Dilma Rousseff on a budgetary technicality, Mr. Temer has constantly looked to gain the support of the agricultural caucus, with retrogressive measures affecting indigenous tribes in the centre-west and north regions, as well as dramatically reducing the protected areas of the Amazon rainforest.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.