Blame It on IMF, Not Rio?
Brazil’s recession is taking a toll on its rainforest. The nation, in an effort to show the world that it can control its spending and to comply with conditions for a $41.5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, has made deep cuts in its budget, including slashing funding by half for the Environment Ministry. This means less money for monitoring and controlling fires and for cracking down on illegal tree-cutting, land-clearing, and trafficking in endangered animals. At the same time, urban unemployment could send jobless workers to the jungle to clear land for small farms. Brazil’s decision in January to devalue its currency has made exporting timber less expensive and more competitive.