Brazil planning to open up 860,000 acres of the Amazon to logging, mining and farming
The Brazilian environment ministry is proposing the release of 860,000 acres in the National Forest of Jamanxim for agricultural use, mining and logging.
The government’s order was a compromise measure after protests from local residents and ecologists who claim that the bill could lead to further deforestation in the Pará area.
If approved, the legislation will create a new protection area (APA) close to Novo Progresso. Around 27 percent of the national forest would be converted into an APA, the ministry said.
Carlos Xavier, president of a lobbying group in Pará to decrease the size of the Jamanxim forest, said the APA would bring economic progress to the region.
According to the ministry, the bill includes stipulations to reduce conflicts over land, prevent deforestation and create jobs.
The measures were criticised by environmental groups. “The bill is seen as an amnesty for illegal occupation of the conservancy unit,” said Observatório do Clima on its website, claiming that the government “yielded to pressure” from the rural lobby.
Carlos Xavier, president of a lobbying group in Para to decrease the size of the Jamanxim forest, said the APA would bring economic progress to the region.
In 2016, deforestation of the Amazon rose by 29 per cent over the previous year, according to the government’s satellite monitoring, the biggest jump since 2008.
Mongabay , an environmental science and conservation website, reports that experts using satellite images have identified illegal logging activities to the east of the BR-163 highway, in Pará state.
The BR-163 protests involved stopping trucks from unloading grains at the riverside location of Miritituba, where barges carrying crops are transported en route to the export markets.
ATP, the Brazilian private ports association, calculated that the highway protests would result in losses of $47m (£36m), according to Reuters .
According to Juan Doblas, from the geoprocessing laboratory of the Brazilian NGO Socioenvironmental Institute (ISA), “while deforestation [for cattle ranching] ended, the plundering of the forest by loggers gained momentum.”
Supermodel Gisele Bundchen has added her voice against the proposed legislation, tweeting President Temer to “protect mother earth”.
Global Witness reported that the number of environmental activists killed is rising, with two people on average dying every week. Jair Shmitt, the general coordinator of environmental monitoring at Ibama, described national forest of Jamanxim as “one of the most violent conservation units in Amazonia ”. He told eco website that the region had “professional assassins involved in illegal felling and in the theft of public land”.