Pope Francis has stated that rapid deforestation and the loss of biodiversity in individual countries should not be treated as local issues since they threaten the future of the planet.
Francis made his appeal on a visit to Madagascar, the world’s fourth-largest island, which research institutes and aid agencies say has lost about 44% of its forest over the past 60 years, abetted by illegal exports of rosewood and ebony.
Francis zeroed in on endemic corruption, linking it with persistent, long-term poverty as well as poaching and illegal exports of natural resources.
Addressing Madagascar’s president, Andry Rajoelina, his cabinet and other officials, Francis said some people were profiting from excessive deforestation and the associated loss of species.
“The deterioration of that biodiversity compromises the future of the country and of the earth, our common home,” he said.
Following recent huge fires in the Amazon region, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro rejected international criticism about his policy to expand farmland, saying it was a domestic issue.
“The last forests are menaced by forest fires, poaching, the unrestricted cutting down of valuable woodlands. Plant and animal biodiversity is endangered by contraband and illegal exportation,” Pope Francis said.
Jobs must be created for people whose livelihood harms the environment so they will not see it as their only means of survival, the pontiff added.