point of view

License to deforest

Devastação premiada - license to deforest

The countryside is a minefield. Demonstrations could multiply, such as those in southwestern Pará and the road blocks on BR-163 that culminated in the burning of Ibama vehicles in Cachoeira da Serra. They are the result of the government’s environmental policy, which in addition to causing conflicts, has made the country lose money. Norway reducing the contributions to the Amazon Fund may have been just the beginning.

The term “legal insecurity” was used by Environment Minister Sarney Filho when President Temer’s vetoes to Provisional Measures 756 and 758 were used. They directly related to the limits of the  Jamanxim National Forest and were considered unconstitutional by Public ministry. MP 756 was returned to Congress to go back in the form of  draft legislation. This “legal uncertainty” is actually caused by the government itself when it does this kind of maneuver.

The reduction of the Jamanxim is claimed by the farmers lobby group with the aim of regularizing public lands invaded in the region. Also approved by the Congress and equally questioned by the Public Ministry, PM 759 (the PM of land invasion) goes beyond, as it dictates new rules for urban and rural land regularization. In practice it will facilitate the legalization of land invaded. It would be a license to deforest. The protests in southwestern Pará are precisely to put pressure on the government to approve these measures. We need to respond.


More deforestation, less money


The latest data from Prodes, a program that monitors satellite deforestation in the Amazon, points out that the rate of forest destruction has grown by about 30% from August 2015 to July 2016. It is the largest deforestation since 2008 in the official Amazon forest. Much of this growth is concentrated in the states of Pará, Mato Grosso, Rondônia and Amazonas. And the percentage of deforestation in (theoretically) protected areas has doubled since 2008, and has reached 12% today.

The burned vehicles will surely be missed the crippled Ibama, who lost 30% of its budget from 2015 to 2016. And the trend is that those resources will dwindle even more. Norway was the largest donor to the Amazon Fund (which finances the fight against deforestation) and had already earmarked US$ 1.1 billion for Brazil between 2009 and 2016. The cut of nearly R$ 200 million will directly affect conservation programs.

Germany has announced that it also is considering sanctions, and the French minister of the Ecological Transition, Nicolas Hulot, has included blocking the import of forest or agricultural products that contribute to deforestation in the world, mainly in the Amazon, Southeast Asia and Congo in their climate plan for the next five years. Among the main items are soybean oil, the green gold to famers. In the end, the loss will be shared by everyone.


What can be done?


The cheapest and most effective solution to stop deforestation and bring peace to the countryside, ending this “legal insecurity” is to continue the demarcation of Indigenous and Quilombola Lands, even with the payment of damages to eventual removals. And the protection of Conservation Units, such as forests and  National Parks. Another option is to compensate those who preserve the forest. Systems of this type already work well in countries like Costa Rica, which pays farmers to abandon the practice of extensive livestock farming.

In Brazil, although the Forestry Code of 2012 provides for this mechanism, there is still no national regulation. Today, only a few states, such as Pará, adopt such programs. Another mechanism that could finance the maintenance of forest areas in the country is REDD+. Developed during UN climate conferences, the concept proposes to buy carbon credits, either by governments or companies, saved by forests in regions threatened by deforestation. But since there are still no rules that guide the implementation of the program in Brazil. The initiatives are voluntary and rare. Acre is the only state to establish a REDD+ program. Because of the 75% decline in deforestation since 2004, it has already received R$ 100 million from the German development bank, KFW. In economics terms: A preserved forest is a liability; To destroy it is a loss.


Find out more (Portuguese):


Manifestações e bloqueio de partes da BR-163 chega ao terceiro dia

Protesto na BR-163 afeta transporte de grãos no PA; veículos do Ibama são queimados

Carros a serviço do Ibama são queimados no sudeste do Pará

Oito camionetes do Ibama são incendiadas em ataque no Pará

Por que Temer vetou a proposta de reduzir a proteção de florestas no Pará


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