Landowner caught burning 2 million trees in the Amazon
August 3, 2005 (updated October 25, 2005)
A large plantation owner was caught burning almost 2 million trees in the Amazon to make way for a cattle pastures according to O Estado de S.Paulo, as translated by amazonia.org.br. Workers for Jose Dias Pereira, a landholder in the Brazilian state of Para, were caught by Inspectors from the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) and military police. IBAMA says this is the largest area of deforestation registered this year in Amazonia and has fined Pereira $770,000 (R$ 20.5 million reales).
Pereira was also caught and fined last year by the agencies, though he has yet to be processed for the crime.
The lawlessness of Para state is a serious problem. Last year Dorothy Stang, an American nun who worked with rural poor, was assassinated by gunmen associated with local plantation owners. In June 2005, two men were charged with conspiracy to murder an American outside the United States in connection with her death.
Beyond the violence, IBAMA does not have enough inspectors to police the forests of Para and the Brazilian government has had to call in the army to help fight illegal logging and ranching in the region.
Earlier this year government of Brazil released figures showing deforestation in the Amazon rainforest reached the 10,088 square miles (26,129 square kilometers) for the year ending August 2004. Deforestation in the Amazon in 2004 was the second worst ever as rain forest was cleared for cattle ranches and soy farms.
October 2005 Update:
On October 25th, 2005, federal charges against Jose Dias Pereira were dismissed after the court determined there was not sufficient evidence that he had deforested federal lands.
This report used information from Amigos da Terra – Amazônia Brasileira