Parts of the Brazilian Amazon are illegally offered for sale on Facebook. The protected areas also include national forests and land belonging to indigenous peoples. British broadcaster BBC has discovered this. Some of the plots offered on Facebook Marketplace cover an area of nearly a thousand football fields.
“The land thieves feel so powerful that they are not ashamed to go on Facebook to illegally offer land for sale,” notes Ivaneide Bandeira, head of the environmental group Kanindé. “The advertisements are also easy to find on Facebook Marketplace. It is enough to enter search terms around forests, wood and native jungle to find the listings. Some advertisements also contain satellite images and site location data. ”
“Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is at its highest level in a decade,” notes the BBC, following a number of sellers with a hidden camera. “The illegal activity is fueled by Brazilian livestock farming, which is looking for new pasture land.”
Much of the advertising focused on Rondônia, the Brazilian state most affected by deforestation. Some parcels were in the reserve of the indigenous people Uru Eu Wau Wau. People officials said authorities should step in and urged Facebook to take action itself.
The illegal activities are also fueled by the expectation of amnesty, according to observers. The sellers admit that they have no fear of a possible inspection by the authorities. They also often openly admit that they have no proof of ownership of the lots they put up for sale. Politicians would be called upon to provide them with the necessary documents.
Often the site is deforested first and then politicians are urged to abolish the protected status of the area, as it would no longer serve its original purpose. The land thieves can then officially buy the parcels from the government and thereby legalize their claims.
Ricardo Salles, Brazilian Minister of the Environment, stated in a response that the government has always made it clear that it has zero tolerance for any crime, including ecological ones. However, the Brazilian government has cut the budget for the Ibama, the federal agency responsible for fighting deforestation, by 40 percent.
However, the minister claimed the corona pandemic had hampered law enforcement in the Amazon. He added that state governments also bear responsibility for deforestation.
Federal Prosecutor Raphael Bevilaquia, however, complained that the situation has deteriorated under the current administration. He added that he was being opposed by the executive.
“Facebook argued in a response that it is impossible for the company to find out for itself which offers are illegal in nature,” noted the BBC. According to the company, that task belongs to the local judiciary and other authorities. Facebook also does not appear to have any intentions to discontinue all ads for the sale of Amazon land on the Marketplace. (jvdh)