Brazil Takes Action to Slow Amazon Rainforest Loss
Some reports out of Brazil suggest the government is taking steps to reduce deforestation in the Amazon region

Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research in Peru
The mission of the ACEER Foundation is to promote conservation of the Peruvian Amazon by fostering awareness, understanding, action, and transformation through rainforest workshops and study tours.

(1) Brazil trains environmental police to guard Amazon (Reuters)
(2) Brazil Creates Two New Forest Reserves (AP)
(3) Brazil Creates 14 New Indian Reservations (AP)

Brazil trains environmental police to guard Amazon
By Andrew Hay
6:41 a.m. November 17, 2004

RIO CUEIRAS, Brazil – The latest recruits to Brazil's losing battle to slow Amazon destruction began training Wednesday at a new environmental police academy deep in the world's largest jungle.

Ranks of young camouflage-clad federal police agents lined up in a rain forest clearing to learn how to raid illegal mining and squatter camps, nab foreigners stealing plant and animal species and shoot straight in the jungle.

"You are going to learn how to protect the jungle and stay alive," Kilma Manso, an instructor from Brazil's environmental agency, or Ibama, told trainees as she held up a big furry spider.

Environment Minister Marina Silva reminded agents of their mission the previous day when she opened Latin America's biggest environmental police training camp.

Silva, a former maid and human rights activist, said Brazil had wiped out 97 percent of its second-biggest natural treasure – an Atlantic rain forest once a third the size of the Amazon – and could destroy the Amazon jungle.

"What happened in the Atlantic rain forest could also happen in the Amazon if it becomes just another resource deposit for our economic demands," Silva said.

Four hours by riverboat from the Amazon capital of Manaus, the academy, sprawled across 135 square miles, is part of Brazil's push to stop destruction and theft of plants, animals and natural medicines that cost it billions of dollars a year.

Brazil's senior environmental detective, a silver pistol in his belt, said he has a mandate to launch an unprecedented crackdown. The problem is where to start.

"I just have to drive into the hills near my neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro to see hundreds of environmental crimes. It's everywhere," said Jorge Barbosa Pontes as he raced up the Amazon's muddy Rio Negro to the training school.

Brazil has some of the most rigorous environmental laws in the developing world but struggles to enforce them in a continent-sized nation with a cash-strapped government and business and agricultural elites that regard environmental protection as a barrier to progress, Silva said.


The ruling Workers Party, a traditional ally of the environmental movement, failed to prevent Amazon destruction reaching its second-highest level in 2003. Ranchers and farmers, often using workers in slave conditions, cut down an area of forest equivalent to the size of New Jersey.

Rather than seek outright conservation, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's government wants sustainable environmental use to slow disintegration of indigenous and rural communities and create long-term economic growth.

Since Lula entered office in January 2003, environmentalists have accused him of speeding Amazon destruction in his haste to create jobs for the 53 million Brazilians who live on less than $1 a day.

Environmentalists fear destruction of the jungle the size of Western Europe – known as "the lungs of the world" for its ability to absorb greenhouse gases – because it is home to 10 percent of the world's fresh water, 30 percent of the world's plant and animal species and a vital source for medicines.

World Conservation Union, in its 2004 "Red List" released Tuesday, said Brazil held a particularly large number of threatened animal species, from parrots to frogs.

One of Lula's most controversial projects is a plan to turn an Amazon dirt road into an asphalt highway to serve farmers and ranchers driving Brazil's export-led economy.

Silva expects 31 miles of rain forest to be destroyed on either side of Brazil's Highway 163 unless the project is given environmental safeguards and strict policing.

Federal Police Agent Delano Lopes expects to serve on the front line in that fight.

"The wealth of this country is the environment and the federal police has been told to protect that wealth," he said.

Brazil Creates Two New Forest Reserves
November 9, 2004 7:30 p.m.
The Associated Press

Deforestation Figures for Brazil

[sq mi]
[sq km]

All figures derived from official National
Institute of Space Research (INPA) figures

Deforestation Chart

*For the 1978-1988 period the figures represent
the average annual rates of deforestation.

Deforestation in Brazil: This image of the southern Amazon uses satellite data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra satellite collected in 2000 and 2001 to classify the terrain into three separate land surface categories: forest (red), herbaceous (non-woody) vegetation like grasses (green), and bare ground (blue). The Amazon’s numerous rivers appear white. [more on satellite imagery]
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP)--President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva placed a large swath of rainforest under government protection Tuesday, creating two new environmental reserves in the Amazon.

The two "extractavist" reserves in the Amazon state of Para will protect over 2,000 square kilometers (772.20 square miles) of rainforest from logging, mining and other forms of environmental degradation.

Brazil has different categories of environmental reserve: Extravist reserves are designed to allow the local population to remain in the protected area, tapping rubber, picking fruits and nuts and extracting other regenerating goods from the forest.

Environmentalists praised the move.

"We are extremely happy with the government's decision to honor its commitment to protect the planet's biggest tropical forest and the communities that live in them," said Paulo Adario, coordinator of Greenpeace's Amazon campaign.

Only about 4% of the 5 million square kilometers (1.6 million square miles) Amazon are protected in environmental reserves, while 20% is protected in the form of Indigenous reservations.

Brazil's rainforest is as big as western Europe, covering 60% of the country's national territory. Experts say as much as 20% of its has been destroyed by development, logging and farming.

The environmental ministry said the two reserves will benefit some 2,600 families who will be able to better market products extracted from the jungle with the reserve designation.

"We will guarantee the preservation of areas and the end of illegal occupations," Environment Minster Marina Silva said in statement, referring to the loggers who invade areas of forest belonging to the federal government.

The newly created Riozinho do Anfrisio reserve covers 736,000 hectares (1,818,656 acres) in a remote part of the jungle near the Altamira national forest and two Indian reservations.

It is home to only 47 families, who live mostly through barter, the ministry said.

The Verde Para Sempre reserve -whose name means Evergreen in English -covers 1.28 million hectares (3.16 acres) and is home to some 2,500 families.

It's near Porto da Moz, some 2,500 kilometers (1,500 miles) northwest of Rio de Janeiro, where tensions between loggers and the local community have been growing in recent years.

Copyright 2004 the A.P. All Rights Reserved

Brazil Creates 14 New Indian Reservations
October 27, 2004 6:31 p.m.
The Associated Press

BRASILIA (AP)--President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva signed a decree Wednesday creating 14 new Indian reservations across Brazil.

The decree declares some 2,500 square kilometers of Brazilian territory as ancestral Indian lands mostly in the Amazon rainforest.

Eleven of the reservations were in the state of Amazonas. Reservations were also declared in the Amazon states of Acre and Maranhao as well as in the central western state of Mato Grosso do Sul.

The Indians to benefit from the declarations included the Mura, Tikuna, Tora, Apruina, Kulina, Diahui, Kaiowa, Tenharim and Krikati, said Mario Moura of the federal Indian Bureau.

Moura said several reservations were declared for isolated tribes, whose lands were demarcated by the bureau without the tribes having ever been contacted by anthropologists.

Brazil has some 400,000 Indians living on ancestral lands, the vast majority of them in the Amazon.


mongabay.com users agree to the following as a condition for use of this material:

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of environmental issues. This constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107 .shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

This article was written by Rhett A. Butler [citation]

For kids
Non-English languages

Rainforests | Contribute | For Kids | FAQs | About | Home

Copright Rhett A. Butler 2007

Learn more | Contribute | Home