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Climbing mountains to save forests in Brazil


Last Friday evening I sat and sulked like a kid who’s dropped the summer’s first ice cream in the sand. Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, had announced only a partial veto of the worrying new forest bill we’ve been campaigning against.

My immediate reaction was one of defeat – to me, anything other than a full veto was a disaster. But since then my spirits have lifted… at least a little.

Brazilian Rainforest © WWF-Brazil / Adriano Gambarini"This veto feels like arriving at the top of a mountain to discover that it isn't the summit" © WWF-Brazil / Adriano Gambarini

The fact is, the mood now is more of uncertainty than anything else. It’s been a bit like arriving at what you think is the top of a mountain, only to realise the summit is actually still some way off, and the route obscured by clouds.

All we really know for sure is that President Dilma has vetoed 12 out of 84 articles in the bill. What happens next – the path up the rest of the mountain, as it were – is not at all clear. And it might be a tricky climb. But I’ve got a second wind now, and I’m up for the challenge.

One of the big positives that pushes me on is the huge support we have for the campaign, all across the world. And also some interesting and unexpected alliances that have been forged along this journey.

For instance, tree-huggers joining forces with briefcase-toters – we were quite surprised to hear that some of Brazil’s biggest businesses have taken up the ‘Veta Dilma!’ placards we environmentalists have been wielding for months. Altogether we’re seeing environmental activists, scientists, religious groups, big companies and the landless poor standing together against this overwhelming threat to our planet.

My inner optimist is telling me not to forget that this uncertainty we’re faced with today also brings opportunity. When one route is blocked, another way forward often presents itself. And these growing allegiances we’ve seen bring the possibility of unpredictable adventures ahead.

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