Political infighting in Brazil threatens the Amazon rainforest

mongabay.com
June 01, 2009





Brazil's Environment Minister Carlos Minc accused other government agencies of working to undermine environmental laws in favor of Amazon development projects, report Reuters and the Associated Press. His charge comes a year after his predecessor, Senator Marina Silva, resigned due to the same opposition from development interests.

After a meeting with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Thursday last week, Minc told reporters that government ministers "are going behind his back to Congress, 'each with their little hatchets, pushing amendments that tear to pieces and disfigure environmental legislation,'" according to the AP.

"I explained to President Lula that the (environment) ministry is under attack," he was quoted as saying by Reuters. "The environment is being attacked by Congress and society."


Rainforest, soy fields, and cattle pasture in the Brazilian Amazon
Minc said that the paving of the BR-319 highway which runs through the heart of the Amazon from Manaus and Porto Velho would be an "environmental disaster."

"BR-319 crosses the heart of the best preserved parts of the Amazon, and with the announcement of its reconstruction, deforestation accelerated," he was quoted as saying by the AP.

Minc also complained about proposed changes to forestry regulations that would relax environmental safeguards including allowing landholders to convert more of their land for agriculture and cattle pasture and reducing the requirement to reforest some deforested areas.


Click image to enlarge
Minc has taken an active role in battling Amazon deforestation, reducing credit access to illegal loggers and ranchers, seizing agricultural products and cattle produced on illegally deforested lands, and pushing for new protected areas. His efforts have angered powerful development interests and at times have put his at odds with President Lula, who is promoting new road and hydroelectric projects. Still Minc told reporters that Lula supported him on "six of the eight issues he raised, including a ban on sugar cane planting in the Pantanal," according to Reuters.

Last year President Lula unveiled an ambitious program to reduce Amazon deforestation by 70 percent from a 1996-2005 baseline, although bulk of the cuts are targeted for after he leaves office. Lula hopes to finance the $21 billion plan by soliciting donations from industrialized countries. To date only Norway has committed funds.





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(04/02/2009) Meeting at the Katoomba payments-for-ecosystem-services conference in Cuiaba, Brazil, Carlos Minc, Brazil's Environment Minister, and Blairo Maggi, Governor of the State of Mato Grosso and the world's largest individual soy grower, put aside their ideological differences and agreed to grant a temporary reprieve for ranchers and farmers in the Amazonian state, allowing them up to four years to reforest their holdings to bring them up to legal code. Under Brazilian law landowners in the "legal Amazon" are required to maintain 80 percent forest cover on their holdings, but in practice, the regulation is widely ignored.


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CITATION:
mongabay.com (June 01, 2009).

Political infighting in Brazil threatens the Amazon rainforest.

http://news.mongabay.com/2009/0601-brazil_politics.html