The Brazilian Army will provide logistic support and guarantee the security
of operations to monitor, control, and combat deforestation in the Amazon.
The agreement between
the Ibama (Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais RenováveisBrazilian
Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources) and the Army
Command of Land Operations (Coter), signed on August 6 in Brasília,
is part of the Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Deforestation
in the Amazon, which counts on the participation of 13 ministries.
According to the Army
General Commander, General Francisco Roberto Albuquerque, the preservation
of the Amazon is a matter of national security.
ceased to be an issue confined to environmentalists and intellectuals a long
time ago. The preservation of the ecosystem and the rich biodiversity of the
Amazon is a matter of national security," the Commander affirmed, adding
that the intensive presence of the Armed Forces will avoid illegitimate meddling
in the region.
Through this agreement,
the Army will participate in operations to combat deforestation throughout
the Brazilian Amazon, furnishing logistical support in transportationland,
air, and river, communications, and the security of government employees
involved in monitoring and inspecting deforested areas.
The Ibama already has
seven permanent bases of operations in the Amazonthere will be 19 by
the end of 2005equipped with computers, GPS (Global Positioning System),
generators, vehicles, and road signal and control instruments.
The Minister of Environment,
Marina Silva, said that, more than a simple agreement, the partnership with
the Army represents a joint effort by a society that wants to see the Amazon
protected and developed.
"A society that does
not want development in the Amazon but, rather, the development of the Amazon,"
with sustainable growth and the preservation of its communities and its biodiversity.
Silva underscored that
illegal deforestation, predatory occupation, and land squatting deform and
destroy the Amazon, its communities, and its populations.
In her view, deforestation
of the Amazon, which last year alone destroyed over 23.7 thousand square kilometers
of forest, needs to be dealt with in practice through joint actions and efforts.
Through the end of 2005,
the Ibama will transfer US$ 6.10 million (18.5 million reais) to underwrite
Army operations in the region.
Around 800 scientists
from Brazil and abroad have gathered recently in Brasília to discuss
the process of transformation in Amazon ecosystems and the consequences for
global climatic patterns. They participated in the III Scientific Conference
of the LBA (Large-Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazônia).
The researchers engaged
in the LBA experiment meet every two years to present their findings and debate
how their research results can best be incorporated into the formulation of
government policies aimed at the region's sustainable development.
According to the scientists,
deforestation and burnings in Amazônia are altering the climate and
amplifying the greenhouse effect around the planet. Therefore, an understanding
of the role of the Amazon in the Earth's environmental balance is of strategic
The topics debated ranged
from the chemistry of the atmosphere to hydrology and covered such matters
as carbon storage and exchange, changes in land use, and the physics of climate.
In Brazil, the accelerated
deforestation of the Amazon threatens to shorten the rainfall cycle in the
Southern and Southeastern regions, convert large forest areas into savannahs,
and modify humidity levels in the region.
In his talk on interactions
between climate and vegetation in the Amazon, the coordinator of the LBA,
Carlos Nobre, a scientist attached to the National Institute of Space Research
(Inpe), was emphatic in contending that climate change in Amazônia "is
He informed that what
they are trying to determine "is the scale on which this is taking place."
Nobre pointed out that the climate in deforested regions has suffered variations
of up to three degrees in maximum temperatures.
According to the scientist,
a transformation trend already exists in 15 percent of the Brazilian Amazon,
but it is still too soon to state categorically the extent of its real impact,
since the modifications are spread across the six million square kilometers
of Continental Amazônia.
"If the modifications
were concentrated in a single location, we would already be observing more
changes," he explained.
"If our physical
knowledge is correct in asserting that large-scale deforestation can lead
to diminished rainfall and global heating, the projections indicate that Amazônia
will be transformed into savannah in a period of 50-100 years," Nobre
According to him, in the
worst scenario, the savannah takes over 60 percent of the forest and, in the
average scenario, it replaces 20-30 percent. "In the best scenario, it
doesn't take over anything, and that is what we want."
To study the interaction
between the Amazon Forest and atmospheric and climatic conditions, the participants
in the LBA utilize a variety of equipment, such as data-gathering towers scattered
throughout the forest and remote sensoring instruments installed in satellites.
The research conducted
by the LBA has already produced findings on the role of aerosols in the absorption
of solar radiation, the plant nutrient cycle, and the importance of water
vapor emitted by the Amazon in the formation of clouds and rain, among other
Maurício Cardoso works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official
press agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at email@example.com.
from the Portuguese by David Silberstein.