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Centuries-old Trees Destroyed As Rainforest Is Chopped Down For Pope's Visit To Brazil

Centuries-old trees destroyed as rainforest is chopped down for Pope's visit to Brazil to allow...

Centuries-old trees destroyed as rainforest is chopped down for Pope's visit to Brazil to allow pilgrims to celebrate mass 

Centuries-old trees destroyed as rainforest is chopped down for Pope's visit to Brazil to allow pilgrims to celebrate mass
Axed: A total of 334 trees at the edge of the Serra da Tiririca national park (file picture), but also on church-owned land, were felled in Brazil

Authorities in Brazil have denounced church leaders as criminals for chopping down more than 300 centuries-old trees in a national park - so pilgrims can celebrate mass during the Pope’s visit to Rio de Janeiro.

Pope Francis will make his first international trip to the world’s largest Roman Catholic country later this month.

Organisers of an event in the diocese of Sao Sebastiao de Itaipu, in the city of Niteroi, claimed they needed to clear an area of Atlantic rainforest to accommodate the expected crowd of up to 800 pilgrims.

Centuries-old trees destroyed as rainforest is chopped down for Pope's visit to Brazil to allow pilgrims to celebrate mass
Upset: Niteroi's vice-mayor claimed the church did not seek permission to 'deforest' the land on the edge of the national park (file picture)

A total of 334 trees at the edge of the Serra da Tiririca national park, but also on church-owned land, were felled.

Niteroi's vice-mayor, Axel Grael, claimed the church did not seek permission to ‘deforest’ the land.

He told Brazil's O Globo newspaper: ‘The incident is lamentable. An event for youth should be educational and demonstrate a commitment to the environment and the future. This removal is a criminal act.’

Andre Ilha, from Rio de Janeiro's state environment institute - which is responsible for the forest - said the destruction would never have been allowed.

Centuries-old trees destroyed as rainforest is chopped down for Pope's visit to Brazil to allow pilgrims to celebrate mass
Travels: Pope Francis (pictured on July 7 at the Vatican) will make his first international trip to the world's largest Roman Catholic country later this month

He said: ‘What was razed was the buffer zone of the Tiririca park. We would never have authorised that. It is a fragment of the endangered Atlantic rainforest. We will charge them with a crime.’

The diocese has reportedly offered to replant trees in the area following the event.

It is not the first time World Youth Day organisers have been criticised for a disregard for the environment.

Earlier this month a petition was made to Rio de Janeiro's council to remove 11 coconut trees from the side of Leme beach, where the Pope is due to celebrate mass.

Permission was granted, but after an outcry Rio's mayor Eduardo Paes reversed the decision.

'The incident is lamentable. An event for youth should be educational and demonstrate a commitment to the environment and the future'
Axel Grael, Niteroi's vice-mayor

SOURCE


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