The sustainable development plan for the Amazon region, in Brazil, which has been in the pipeline for two years, will be the subject of public hearings today at the Senate.
Environment Minister, Marina Silva, and National Integration Minister, Ciro Gomes, will participate. Representatives of congressional commissions dealing with Agriculture and Agrarian Reform, the Environment, Consumer Defense, Inspection and Control, and Regional Development and Tourism will also be present.
The Brazilian Chamber of Deputies had already approved a sustainable development project for Amazon last month.
The idea is to combat the deforestation of the Amazon while taking advantage of the region’s economic potential. The Chamber of Deputies’s law will permit that the private sector obtain land concessions in public forests in the Amazon region for sustainable projects.
The concessions, which can be for as much as 40 years, will be obtained through competitive bidding processes limited to Brazilian companies.
They will be judged by taking into consideration price, environmental impact and socio-economic benefits. Bidders will not receive ownership of the land, only its use, as the government will retain ownership.
“This is really not a concession project, it is a public forest management project. Land will be made available only after it is determined that it will not be turned into a conservation area or used by local inhabitants. Reserves and local use are our priorities. Concessions come in third place,” explains João Paulo Capobianco, secretary of Biodiversity at the Ministry of Environment.
Under the terms of the new law, the forest can be used in various ways. There can be extraction, for example, lumbering. Or, there can be non-extractive activities, such as ecotourism. According to Capobianco, some 45% of the Amazon forest is government property (the rest is either conservation areas or Indian reservations).
The law has clauses which provide special protection for small enterprises on areas of up to 2,500 hectares.