Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva signed decrees on Monday, February 13, creating seven new environmental protection areas in western Pará, a region marked by grave land disputes, deaths and death threats and environmental devastation.
The decrees will be published in the Diário Oficial (Federal Register) in the coming days.
This brings the total protected area in that region of Pará, in the north region of Brazil, to 6.4 million hectares. The Amazon region as a whole now has 45.8 million hectares of protected area, as against 30.7 million in 2003.
"The Lula Administration’s Plan to Combat Deforestation added 50% to this total by including another 15.1 million hectares of Conservation Units," underscored the Minister of Environment, Marina Silva, following a meeting with President Lula and representatives of non-governmental organizations.
Also in the environmental sphere, president Lula signed two more decrees, one expanding the Amazon National Park by 150 thousand hectares (the park currently contains 1 million hectares), and another establishing the country’s first Sustainable Forest District, also located in western Pará and aimed at fomenting sustainable development in the region.
The district will be capable of generating 100,000 jobs, producing around 400 megawatts of electricity, and collecting US$ 832.52 million (1.8 billion reais) in taxes each year.
"These figures make a difference for the future of sustainable development in the Amazon region," Minister Silva commented.
According to the presidential chief of staff, Dilma Rousseff, who also attended the meeting, these are just some of the steps the government plans to announce this year to combat deforestation and reduce rural conflict in the country.
"All these steps are very important, because they constitute an institutional framework that will allow the country to control deforestation and lay the foundations for sustainable development," Rousseff commented.
In her view, the battle against deforestation has been one of the priorities of the current Administration, which has been developing activities in this area since 2003.