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Brazil backslides on protecting the Amazon

Nacho Doce / Reuters

An elderly woman rests next to her grandchild in a hammock inside their house in the village of Pimental in Itaituba, in the state of Para, on May 26. In the 19 months since Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff took office, longstanding rules that curtail deforestation and protect millions of square kilometers of watershed have been rolled back. She issued an executive order to shrink or repurpose seven protected woodlands, making way for hydroelectric dams and other infrastructure projects, and to legalize settlements by farmers and miners. These photos were received by NBCNews.com on Aug. 3 as part of a Reuters special report.

Nacho Doce / Reuters

An aerial view shows illegal deforestation close to the Amazonia National Park in Itaituba, state of Para, on May 25.

Below is an excerpt from a Reuters special report: Brazil backslides on protecting the Amazon

Reuters -- Last year President Dilma Rousseff authorized a change that ceded much responsibility for environmental oversight to local officials. Of 168 Ibama, Brazil's widely respected federal environmental agency, field offices operating a few years ago, 91 have been shuttered, according to Ibama employees. Ivo Lubrinna says Ibama agents used to fine him and other miners for violations. Now, he leads a team that inspects wildcatting sites. So far, he says, he has levied few fines.

The shift to local control is one of many changes implemented under Rousseff's administration that, taken together, constitute an all-out retreat from nearly two decades of progressive federal environmental policy.

In the 19 months since Rousseff took office, longstanding rules that curtail deforestation and protect millions of square kilometers of watershed have been rolled back. She issued an executive order to shrink or repurpose seven protected woodlands, making way for hydroelectric dams and other infrastructure projects, and to legalize settlements by farmers and miners.

And she has slowed to a near halt a process, uninterrupted during the previous three administrations, of setting aside land for national parks, wildlife reserves and other "conservation units."

Read the full story.

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Nacho Doce / Reuters

A boy walks on the Trans-Amazonian highway in Itaituba, in the state of Para, on May 24.

Mario Tama / Getty Images

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