Environment: Deforestation and Disaster

Without trees, a tropical ecosystem turns wasteland

The scorching sun roasts the skeletons of jacaranda trees. The soil, dry and hard, looks like baked clay. Rivers, once navigated by 5,000-ton ships, are now so choked by sand bars that a canoe can barely nose through. Bridges cross dry gulches overgrown with weeds and shrubs. Many once plentiful plants and birds are gone, and human beings who live there are disfigured by skin cancer. The scene is 300 sq. mi. in the Brazilian state of Espirito Santo, a once lush strip north of Rio de...

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