Pope Francis has said that rapid deforestation and loss of biodiversity in individual countries should not be treated as local problems, as they threaten the future of the planet.
Pope Francis, leader of the world's 1.3 billion Roman Catholics, appealed on a visit to Madagascar, the world's fourth-largest island, which according to research institutes and aid agencies has lost about 44 percent. of its forest in the last 60 years incited by the illegal exports of rosewood and ebony.
Reuters reported that Pope Francis targeted endemic corruption, linking it to long-term persistent poverty, as well as poaching and illegal exports of natural resources.
Addressing Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina, his cabinet and other officials, Pope Francis said that some people were benefiting from excessive deforestation and the associated loss of species. "The deterioration of this biodiversity compromises the future of the country and of the earth, our common home," said the Supreme Pontiff.
Reuters reported on the other hand that after recent large fires in the Amazon region, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro rejected international criticism of his policy of expanding agricultural land, saying it was an internal problem.
“The last forests are threatened by forest fires, poaching, the unrestricted felling of valuable forests. Plant and animal biodiversity is in danger from smuggling and illegal export, ”said Pope Francis.
The pontiff added that jobs must be created for people whose livelihoods damage the environment so that they do not see it as their only means of survival.
“There can be no true ecological approach or effective efforts to safeguard the environment without achieving social justice capable of respecting the right to the common destiny of the Earth's goods, not only of current generations, but also of those who they are yet to come, ”said Francisco.
Reuters reports that the fires in the Amazon have lent new urgency to Pope Francis' calls to protect nature, address climate change and promote sustainable development - all of which are enshrined in his 2015 encyclical on protecting the environment.
Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world. The United Nations World Food Program estimates that more than 90 percent of its population of 26 million lives on less than US $ 2 a day, with widespread chronic childhood malnutrition. Corruption is also rampant, Transparency International has said.
Pope Francis urged the nation's leaders to "fight with strength and determination against all endemic forms of corruption and speculation that increase social disparity, and to confront situations of great instability and exclusion that always create conditions of inhuman poverty."
Conservation groups say that during President Rajoelina's first stint in power, his money-strapped administration presided over a surge in deforestation to supply rosewood and ebony to China despite a national ban on such exports.
The environmental campaign group TRAFFIC estimates that at least one million rosewood logs have been illegally shipped from Madagascar since 2010.
As Asian supplies of valuable hardwoods, including the rosewood used to make luxury furniture dried up, Chinese importers moved to Africa, according to Chinese customs data cited by Forest Trends, a nonprofit group with based in the United States.
In the evening, the pontiff addressed some 100,000 young people at a rally in a field on the outskirts of the capital, urging them to help bring social justice to their country.