Plots of Amazon rainforest are being sold on Facebook Marketplace

Harry Linley reports on the shocking revelation that plots of the Amazon are up for sale

Harry Linley
16th March 2021
Image Credit: Karsten Winegeart
Illegally acquired plots of the Amazon rainforest are being sold on Facebook Marketplace and evidence of the unlawful trade is not hard to find. By simply setting location to an Amazonian state and searching terms such as ‘floresta,' Portuguese for ‘forest,’ plots the size of 1000 football pitches can be purchased. These include areas of national forest and the land of indigenous people.

In Brazil, deforestation is at an 11-year high, propelled by the agenda of the President Jair Bolsonaro and the ease of online selling.

Bolsonaro has cut the inspections budget for forestry regulation by 40%, describing the destruction of the Amazon rainforest as “cultural”. His administration’s pro-development and anti-environmental rhetoric have made illegal traders confident they will face minimal state intervention. This has resulted in the confidence to post online listings with satellite images and GPS coordinates.

Facebook claims the identification and removal of illegal land would be too complex and should be the responsibility of local authorities

One simple land grab strategy employed by these traders, made straightforward by the lack of administrative resistance, is to deforest a protected area. This removes the need for its status, with buyers able to put forward requests to officially purchase the plot from the government. Raphael Bevilaquia, a federal prosecutor and advocate for rainforest protection said, “the executive power is playing against us. It’s disheartening.”

Deforestation has been further accelerated by the ease of online selling on platforms such as Facebook Marketplace. Facebook claims the identification and removal of illegal land would be too complex and should be the responsibility of local authorities. This perhaps chooses to ignore the obvious, far simpler solution: banning Marketplace sales of the Amazon entirely.

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