As the world watches apprehensively to see who might become Brazil’s new president, there are serious concerns for the future of the Amazon. The country’s Amazon has always been at the center of global consciousness as deforestation rates worsen. This year, there is heightened tension as the world considers what will become of the forest in the coming years following the election.

With the simple reality that the Amazon is shrinking, the intentions of the next President will tell all. Far-right Jair Bolsonaro, current president of Brazil and leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva – universally known as Lula – are in the spotlight as the future of the forest rises to center stage. This urgency increased more than ever this year. According to the Financial Times, the actual number of fires in peak months August and September hit the highest level for more than a decade.

The Amazon is hugely important in regulating the Earth and absorbing large amounts of greenhouse gases. In a decade alone the nature of the life-saving forest has changed considerably, mostly for the worse. For many, these elections are indicative of what is to come.

Related: Deforestation In The Brazilian Amazon Breaks Previous Records

What's the story so far:

Small indigenous villages who are located close to gold deposits have been hit particularly hard. According to BBC reports, many in these communities are suffering from dehydration and malnourishment. The severe decline in their health is linked to the exploitation of their indigenous land.

It is known that organized crime is rampant in the area too. Most of it is directly associated with deforestation. Gold miners searching for treasure are often armed and so largely left to excavate and steal from the land.

In one interview, the voice of those most affected was undeniable: “If Bolsonaro wins again, he’ll kill us all,” says shaman and leader Davi Kopenawa Yanomami. “We are surrounded by big politicians who don’t want to know us or respect us.”

The first round of run-offs in the election happened on Sunday 2 October. The second round will be scheduled for Sunday 30 October.