iss017e013856 by NASA Johnson is licensed under CC-BY-NC 2.0

It was supposed to be a good-news story out of the damaged Amazon rainforest: a project that replanted hundreds of thousands of trees in an illegally deforested nature reserve in Brazil.

Then it went up in flames, allegedly torched by land-grabbers trying to reclaim the territory for cattle pasture.

Launched in 2019 by environmental research group Rioterra, the reforestation project took 270 hectares (665 acres) of forest that had been razed by cattle ranching on a protected nature reserve in the northern state of Rondonia and replanted it with 360,000 trees.

The idea was ambitious, says Rioterra's project coordinator, Alexis Bastos: save a corner of the world's biggest rainforest, fighting climate change and creating green jobs along the way.

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