Amazon Rainforest Plots Are Being Sold on Facebook

BBC investigation finds illegally cleared land available on Facebook Marketplace
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 26, 2021 10:13 AM CST
Illegally Cleared Rainforest Plots for Sale on Facebook
Amazon deforestation is at a 10-year high.   (Getty Images/Paralaxis)

"Enabling deforestation in the Amazon" can be added to the list of Facebook's misdeeds, according to a BBC investigation. The broadcaster says many plots of illegally deforested land in the Brazilian rainforest can be found for sale via Facebook Marketplace—and some of the sellers who spoke to an undercover operative posing as a lawyer boasted about their connections to politicians. "There's no risk of an inspection by state agents here," said one seller who showed the operative a patch of rainforest he had burnt to the ground to prepare it for farming. Some sellers admitted they did not have legal title to the land, but illegally clearing patches of rainforest and then lobbying the government to abolish its protected status is a common tactic, the BBC notes.

One seller offered a plot of land inside an indigenous reserve. Campaigners say lax enforcement from the government of President Jair Bolsonaro has allowed illegal land sales to flourish. Bolsonaro has encouraged development in the Amazon and has slashed the budgets of agencies that enforce environmental laws, the Independent notes. "The land invaders feel very empowered to the point that they are not ashamed of going on Facebook to make illegal land deals," says Ivaneide Bandeira, head of a NGO fighting to preserve the rainforest and the rights of indigenous tribes. Facebook told the BBC it is "ready to work with local authorities" on the issue but it won't act on its own to halt or regulate the land sales. "Our commerce policies require buyers and sellers to comply with laws and regulations, the company said. (More Amazon rainforest stories.)

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