The charity’s comments followed new figures released by the Brazilian Federal Government, which showed deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon had reached 9.762km2 between August 2019 and July 2019 – up 29.5% compared with the previous 12-month period.
Deforestation has accelerated rapidly to clear space for the production of food, primarily beef, that is exported all around the world – including the UK.
WWF UK executive director of science and conservation Mike Barrett described the Amazon rainforest as critical to the survival of the planet, saying that to lose it would be to lose the fight against climate change.
‘Reached a tipping point’
“The terrifying scale of this deforestation should alarm us all,” said Barrett. “Along with the recent devastating fires in the region, the Amazon is reaching a tipping point, which poses serious risks for precious species such as the jaguar, local communities who depend on the forest and, ultimately, the planet.”
He condemned the practice of illegal land-grabbing and mining that had escalated the level of deforestation in the Amazon and called for the international community to come together to counter its destruction.
Barrett added: “WWF is calling on all political parties in the UK to commit to binding legislation to eliminate deforestation from our food supply chains. We simply can’t afford to ignore this - our own future depends on it.”
Brazilian meat in the UK
While a number of UK-based retailers have stopped purchasing meat products from Brazil in an effort to combat further damage to the rainforest, manufacturers have come under fire for their use of palm oil, which has been linked to illegal deforestation.
In September, multinational group Nestlé was accused of allowing illegally-sourced palm oil into the supply chains of some of its major consumer brands.
Meanwhile, in November last year, confectionery giant Mondelēz International was urged to sever its links with the “biggest and dirtiest palm oil trader in the world” in a protest staged outside its UK headquarters.