FJA Shortlist 2021

Category: Excellence in Environmental Journalism

Author: Karla Mendes (Brazil)

Déjà Vu as Palm Oil Industry Brings Deforestation, Pollution to Amazon

The original publication is available via the following link:

12 March 2021

Mongabay Series: Amazon Agribusiness, Amazon Illegal Deforestation, Global Palm Oil

Producers say their supply chains are green and sustainable, but prosecutors cite a long record of land grabbing, deforestation, pollution, and human rights violations

  • Palm oil, a crop synonymous with deforestation and community conflicts in Southeast Asia, is making inroads in the Brazilian Amazon, where the same issues are playing out.
  • Indigenous and traditional communities say the plantations in their midst are polluting their water, poisoning their soil, and driving away fish and game.
  • Scientists have found high levels of agrochemical residues in these communities — though still within Brazil’s legal limits — while prosecutors are pursuing legal cases against the companies for allegedly violating Indigenous and traditional communities’ rights and damaging the environment.
  • Studies based on satellite imagery also disprove the companies’ claims that they only plant on already deforested land.

TOMÉ-AÇU, Brazil — Guided by an Indigenous leader, we drove down dusty roads in the Turé-Mariquita Indigenous Reserve, a “green island” encircled by oil palm plantations in the Brazilian Amazon.

Uniform rows of oil palms cover huge swaths of land here in the northeast of the state of Pará, once home to a vibrant expanse of rainforest. Our Mongabay reporting team was there to discover if the palm oil business, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, is sustainable and ecologically responsible, as industry representatives told us.

Read more (English)

Read more (Portuguese) 

Brazil prosecutors cite Mongabay probe in new legal battle against palm oil firms

Read more