Actor DiCaprio donates US$5 mn to save rainforest

Leonardo DiCaprio’s environmental organization is putting US$5 million toward helping the Amazon rainforest after the recent surge in fires there, the BBC reported.

Earth Alliance will give the money to local groups and indigenous communities as they work to protect the Amazon. The National Institute for Space Research in Brazil says there have been more than 72,000 fires in the Amazon rainforest this year, the BBC report said.

That’s up from 40,000 at the same point last year.

A statement on the Earth Alliance website says: “The destruction of the Amazon rainforest is rapidly releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, destroying an ecosystem that absorbs millions of tonnes of carbon emissions every year and is one of the planet’s best defences against the climate crisis.”

The organisations receiving the cash are Instituto Associacao Floresta Protegida (Kayapo), Coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB), Instituto Kabu (Kayapo), Instituto Raoni (Kayapo) and Instituto Socioambiental (ISA).

The surge in forest fires has been put down to a rise in deliberate deforestation for cattle farming, the BBC report said.

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has also been accused of encouraging the destruction of the Amazon through a lack of action on environmental issues.

But he says non-governmental organisations (NGOs) — like charities — could be to blame for starting the record number of fires. He hasn’t offered any evidence for this claim.

Earth Alliance was founded by Leo and two other philanthropists in July -— aiming to protect wildlife, push for climate justice and secure indigenous rights, the BBC report said.

The Amazon Forest Fund is the group’s initiative to raise money for the protection of this specific area.

In an Instagram post on Saturday, the actor said he is “deeply concerned about the ongoing crisis in the Amazon, which highlights the delicate balance of climate, biodiversity, and the wellbeing of indigenous peoples.”

According to Esquire, the Amazon is the world’s largest rainforest and is frequently dubbed as “the world’s lungs” as it produces around 20% of all breathable oxygen on our planet.

Burning now at the highest rate since 2013, Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research has estimated more than one-and-a-half soccer fields’ worth of Amazon rainforest is being burned down every minute of every day.