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Amazon: A Record to Be Ashamed of


Amazon: A Record to Be Ashamed of

Producers from the south have invaded the city of Belém, state
of Pará, buying all the available
land. All of this is happening
without any study to identify the economic potential of the region.
The
richness of the Amazons is in the forest. Great
part of the soil of the region is uncultivable.

by:
Adital

 

The 2002 rate of deforestation, now known to be 25,500 square kilometers, is well above the yearly average (21,130
square kilometers) of even the most tragic era of the Amazon—the 70s and 80s—known as the "decades of devastation."

"If the fury of tractors destroyed the equivalent of 5.1 million soccer fields in 2002, the public needs to brace itself
because our observations in the field and analysis of data show that what lies ahead is a new level of record destruction that will
shame Brazil" said the Coordinator of the Greenpeace Amazon Campaign, Paulo Adário.

In spite of the means being adopted by Lula’s Administration to revert the amount of deforestation, much destruction
has already happened. The current year’s rate (2002-2003) will likely show a conglomeration of forces at work with the
result being the devastation of the Amazon. There is only one way out: the Government must adopt a "Zero Deforestation"
program—like the "Zero Hunger" program—that seeks to resolve the problem in the long range.

Part of the explanation for the surprising increase in deforestation includes an increase in cultivation in the region,
the boom in livestock, and in soy and rice that grows uncontrollably in the heart of the Amazon. Additionally, the
devaluation of the real beginning in 2001, the greater competitiveness of wood cut down with impunity in the region, the
nonexistence of credit for sustainable management of forest resources and the chronic incapacity of the governmental organizations
weakened by years of budget cuts also factor into the increase in deforestation.

According to Greenpeace, the problem went beyond what is called the "Arch of Deforestation" that goes from the
southeast of Pará to the west, passing through Mato Grosso, Rondônia and Acre, pushing through a consortium of
wood-paste- grain production sites for exportation. It does not involve more than little patches of deforestation brought on by
colonies that establish themselves in remote areas, but larger areas of forest are being removed in regions that until now were
vast distances from any agricultural frontier.

Great deforestations and squatting on public lands are occurring in Apuí, Lábrea, Boca do Acre, Novo Aripuanã and
Rodovia do Estanho, in the Amazon, even though it is well protected.

In the month of June, 2003, Embrapa (Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecúaria—Brazilian Agricultural
Research Corporation) identified that the majority of focused burnings were concentrated in the southern part of Rodovia do Estanho in Mato Grosso. In Santarém, the major exportation port for wood from Pará, the multinational
Cargill installed a granary for soy.

Producers from the south have invaded the city in the last six months, buying all the available land. According to
local leaders, the soy boom already is affecting the banks of the tourist lake of Alter do Chão. All of this happened without any zoning or controlling whatsoever, or even studies to identify the economic potential
of the region.

Besides the enormous loss of biodiversity and the threat to people and traditional cultures, the deforestation affects
the water cycles and adds, according to IPAM, (Institute of Amazonian Research) 200 million tons of carbon into the
atmosphere annually, making Brazil one of the ten biggest countries responsible for global warming.

Scientific studies have already proved that a great part of the soil of the region is uncultivable. The richness of the
Amazons is in the forest. The future of the region depends on the adoption throughout the county of a new model of development
based on the implementation of a net of protected areas and of sustainable environment and the responsible use of natural resources.

"The destruction of the forest has become a global priority, and not just a Brazilian problem," concluded Adário.
"Only twenty-two percent of original global forest coverage remains today. Nearly forty-five percent of rainforests, which
originally covered 14 million square kilometers (1.4 billion hectares), disappeared in the last decades.


In the case of the Brazilian Amazon, the deforestation of the region, that in 1970 was barely one percent, jumped to
almost sixteen percent in 2002. It is imperative to stop this process before the Amazon becomes a new Atlantic Forest, today
reduced to just seven percent of its original dimension."

 

Comments may be sent to Adital (Agência de Informação Frei Tito para a América Latina—Friar Tito Information
Agency for Latin America) adital@adital.org.br


Translated by Ann Schneider

 

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