Video Journalist Aaron Lewis treks into the Amazon to report on the deforestation. Some have dubbed it the “lungs of the Earth”, but the Amazon is also a lawless jungle, a place where reporting illegal logging can mean death threats and forced evictions.
“I’m not afraid to die. My biggest fear is losing the Amazon, because then my children won’t survive.” – Valdeci Dos Santos Gomes, Amazon resident.
Lewis accompanies him on his first trip back to his village in over two years. After villagers began reporting illegal logging operations he received death threats and had to flee his home.
“They sent a note to us saying that for each metre of timber that is confiscated by the police, the price on our heads increases,” Gomes tells Lewis.
After years of a slow decline in logging in the Amazon Basin, the last six months has seen a boom in the illegal timber trade. In one area alone, billions of dollars of illegal hardwood is exported to countries including Australia, and a centuries-old tree can be worth as little as $20.
“The government makes it very hard to get a licence,” the manager of an illegal sawmill tells Lewis. “They give licences to the big guys but we little companies are forced to work illegally.”
Members of 13 communities living along the river hold a meeting to discuss ways of fighting back. Lewis travels two days by boat to reach the secret location. Members have tried negotiation, road blocks and even burning the barges that carry the logs, but to no end.
Recently, Brazil’s national environment police force (known as IBAMA) was given powers to prosecute anyone caught logging illegally. But shutting down illegal logging companies also means cutting off the livelihoods of workers.
This week Dateline's veteran Video Journalist travels to Ireland where a shortage of priests is sweeping the nation.
In a country that is 95 per cent Roman Catholic, there should be no trouble recruiting priests. But if dire predictions come true, the number of Irish men of the cloth will drop by 70 per cent over the next 20 years. Some priests tell Brill it's a combination of outdated ideals and bad PR.
“It came to a point where I had a real problem preaching one thing and believing another,” says Dermot Dunne, a former Catholic priest, now an Anglican reverend. “Celibacy should be a choice, rather than an intrinsic part of the ordination.”
“The [paedophilia] scandal began to come across the public conscious in a big way probably from the early 90s,” says commentator David Quinn. “It was a rolling story in Ireland…there was absolutely gigantic public anger.”
But with an ageing priest population and more men turning their back on strict church doctrine, how will Ireland fix its supply problem?
About International Dateline
SBS Dateline, which began in 1984, is Australia's longest-running international current affairs program. It has a well-earned reputation for authoritative and incisive reporting. Dateline has taken the traditional way of producing TV current affairs and turned it on its head. Reporters who used to travel with a cameraperson and sound recordist now travel alone and have the responsibility of both filming and reporting their stories. The reporters became video-journalists, gaining access to people and places that the conventional camera crews cannot.