Latin America has the greatest extent of tropical forests of any region worldwide. The vast majority of this forest cover exists in the Amazon basin, of which over 60 percent is found in the Brazilian Amazon. After nearly a decade of declining deforestation from 2004-2012, when the annual rate of loss fell by more than 70 percent, forest clearing in the Brazilian Amazon has been trending upward. Scientists have warned that if the trend continues, there’s a real danger of the Amazon biome reaching a critical tipping point where large areas of wet rainforest could transition to dry tropical woodlands and savanna. Such a shift could have dramatic implications for regional rainfall, with the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone potentially moving northward, leading to drier conditions across South America’s breadbasket and major urban areas, and unleashing a torrent of carbon emissions from forest die-off. The impact on the global carbon budget would be substantial.
Not only is the Amazon seriously threatened, so is the neighboring Cerrado biome, the vast savanna lying to the east and south of the Brazilian Amazon basin. These grasslands are incredibly biodiverse, with more than 10,000 plant species, more than 900 bird and over 300 mammal species, making the biome one of the earth’s top biodiversity hotspots. The Cerrado is also vital for carbon sequestration and as Brazil’s “birthplace of waters,” with many of the nation’s most important aquifers and rivers originating there. Yet, half of the Cerrado biome, which once covered two million square kilometers (772,204 square miles) has already been lost to cattle ranches and soy, corn and cotton plantations, with the savanna losing its native vegetation faster than any part of Brazil including the Amazon.
To bring greater awareness of socio-environmental issues in Brazil, Mongabay is opening up a general pitch form to put contributors in contact with a team of editors working in English and Portuguese. Successful pitches will address Mongabay’s current reporting priorities.
Mongabay is currently seeking story proposals on the following topics:
- Conservation activities, science, and projects in the Brazil with an emphasis on the Amazon and Cerrado biomes.
- Infrastructure development inclusive of roads, railways, industrial waterways, ports, dams, electrical transmission lines, and their financing.
- Forests with an emphasis on recent deforestation and forest degradation, and illegalities associated with deforestation (ie. logging, fires, land grabbing, etc.), as well as nature-based solutions for curbing deforestation and climate change. For more details, please review the tropical forests and reforestation project.
- Agribusiness (especially cattle and soy production) and extractive industries (especially artisanal and industrial mining), in particular tracing global supply chain relationships and covering efforts to create and maintain profitable and environmentally-sound businesses. For more details, please review the tropical forests and land rights and extractives projects.
- Indigenous peoples, quilombos, traditional rural communities, and the Brazilian landless movement, with a preference for stories relevant to land rights, the maintenance of traditional cultures and creation of sustainable livelihoods. For more details, please review the agroecology project.
- Wildlife and biodiversity inclusive of terrestrial and aquatic freshwater ecosystems, with a focus on specific locales, and/or plants and animals.
- Changes in legislation and policies that could considerably affect the management and conservation of the Amazon and other forested biomes.
- Stories pertaining to Acre state.
Each story will be between 800 and 2,000 words in length and will include quotes from at least three original interviews. Authors will be expected to provide five to 10 publishable photos free for Mongabay’s use to accompany their articles, along with captions and photo credits.
Mongabay will negotiate all fees and contracts on a per-story basis. Completed stories will be paid on a per word or fixed fee basis, with rates depending primarily on the journalist’s experience. Mongabay.com publishes under an open Creative Commons license that allows for sharing, translation, and re-posting. More information on Mongabay’s editorial standards and practice can be found here.
How to submit your story pitch
To send Mongabay a pitch, please be prepared to also share your resume/portfolio along with three samples of your work. The story pitch should be roughly 500 words in length and include a title for the project. Viable pitches will clearly explain the specific subject you would like to write about in detail and your approach to covering it, and describe a few potential sources. Pitches for video-led stories should also include a shot list and a list of expected interviews.
Support for travel expenses may also be provided by Mongabay. Please include a preliminary travel plan and budget estimate (using this template) if support for travel expenses will be required to carry out reporting. Do not include payments for your work in this budget estimate. Please also describe COVID-19-related precautions you intend to take and any travel restrictions that may impact your plans.
- Pitch a story to the Brazil team in English or Portuguese