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Amazon deforestation is promoted by criminals


The attack on the environment promoted by the government of Jair Bolsonaro, influenced the pessimistic tone on the panel: "What will be necessary for Brazil to combat illegal deforestation by 2030?", at the Ethos 360 Conference. The event was at the Ibirapuera Park Biennial Pavilion, in São Paulo. The despise of government for the environment join, in the Amazon, with 'grileiros', miners, pirates ex-members of FARC and traffickers to compose a chaotic scenario that threatens the forest. "Brazil has already proven that it is possible to reduce deforestation. But now we are tragically going back," regretted Alfredo Sirkis, executive director of Centro Brasil do Clima (CBC), one of the panel's debaters.


Acceleration of deforestation, that grown since 2015, is caused by the disarticulation of supervision and failure in repression. Sirkis pointed out, however, that illegal deforestation is not promoted by agribusiness, but by criminals. "The modern agribusiness businessmen do not need illegal deforestation," he said. Nowadays, those responsible for illegal deforestation create embarrassment for agribusiness businessmen," he said.


Coordinator of special projects of the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS), an institution that encourages alternative income for riverside communities, Valdir Salviati, another member of the panel, warned the importance of the government reinforcing the national security of the Amazon Region. Salviati said the foundation had hired armed security guards for a year. The objective was to take people on rafts along the rivers because of pirates - in fact, dissidents of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). They have infiltrated the forest and are training criminals to gain control of the drug traffic route. "This is a critical factor in national security. The protection of indigenous leaders is weak," he said.


Sirkis and Salviati agree that it is essential, in addition to IBAMA's inspection, the repression of the Federal Police and the support of the Army covering the against illegal deforestation. The executive director of CBC warns that 'grileiros' are powerful. Those who promote illegal deforestation earn votes in the region and even politically intimidate the sector that does not deforest illegally, he explained. "The grileiro take down the trees and puts some oxen to claim the land for himself. The land worth more, it is informal real estate speculation," Sirkis said.


Salviati, of the Amazonas Foundation, showed that the region's "land mess" favors "grileiros". "It is not known who owns about 50 million hectares of land in the center of the state of Amazonas. Deforestation didn't get there because of a lack of logistics, lack of access. But I don't give one to two years for deforestation to get there," he said.


Producing is necessary

Vítor Salviati stressed that the government needs to encourage family and sustainable agriculture in the Amazon to combat deforestation and regretted the reduction in funding programs. "In Amazonas today, if you're going to ask the banks for credit, the manager will reach his goal if he gives credit to those who plant pineapples. But only if he gives credit to those who plant soy or raise cattle. The financial system needs to motivate low-carbon agriculture," said the coordinator of special projects of the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation.


Alfredo Sirkis emphasized that an essential aspect of the fight against illegal deforestation is the fight against poverty and the development of payment mechanisms for environmental services. "The riverside inhabitant needs means of subsistence to stop being paid by the 'grileiro'. He will not deforest if conservation is profitable," explained the director of the CBC, who has worked directly with state governments. "It is necessary to train the states to do what the federal government won't do. You have to help the states get international funding without having to go through the federal government," Sirkis said.


Even businesspeople in the agricultural sector can be allies of conservation - no wonder some have already protested against the disastrous environmental policy of the Bolsonaro government. Claudio Almeida, coordinator of the Amazon Program of the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), also a participant in the panel on the region at the Ethos 360 Conference, recalls the importance of this information for the economy. "The INPE data are not only to point out the accused of deforestation. They are important information for the productive chain in Brazil", he said.


Almeida gives as an example the case of Brazilian exporters of soybeans and cattle. "These sectors produce legally and have to show the origin of their products to their clients since the market today demands more ethical behavior. Important sectors of our economy need INPE data to show that they do their homework, that their production is sustainable," he said.


The INPE coordinator said that large foreign companies buying soybeans, for example, only acquire the Brazilian product that is certified. The production can not be planted in deforested areas after 2008. The credit market to those who preserve the environment is also an important factor, said Claudio Almeida. There are in the Amazonian region 36 priority cities that can suffer credit restriction if they do not comply with the rules.


Environmental Hostility

Claudio Almeida made a point of defending the seriousness of data regarding illegal deforestation in the Amazon, disclosed by the institution, which is connected to the Ministry of Science. INPE was the target of an attack by Bolsonaro, who recently fired its director, scientist Ricardo Galvão. "Technically, it is almost impossible for INPE to manipulate the data, which are transparent, are on the Internet," he said.


Almeida explained that INPE's oldest project is Prodes, which monitors the Amazon rainforest by satellites, which has been carried out periodically since 1988. "It is the largest program in the world in an area as large as the Amazon," he said. This monitoring is carried out annually and shows how much primary forest has been lost. In 30 years, Prodes has already detected 780,000 square kilometers of deforestation (19.7% of original forest).


The Legal Amazon has 5.5 million square kilometers. But there are one million square kilometers of territory that are not the original forest. INPE monitors the 4 million square kilometers of primary forest. The Deter system, which recorded the increase in deforestation in July, generating the protest of Bolsonaro, is a rapid survey of alerts of evidence of altered forest cover in the Amazon. "Deter's data allows states to plan enforcement actions against deforestation," said the coordinator of the Amazon Program.


For Sirkis, the Bolsonaro government has an "idiosyncratic" view of the environmental issue. "He believes that environmentalists are synonymous with communists. The government has a love for the destruction of nature, a hatred for the defense of the environment. It's not a traditional right-wing stance of having economic interests. It's different. There is a component of hostility," said the executive director of Centro Brasil no Clima. He recalled that, between 2004 and 2012, there was a reduction in CO2 emissions. Then there were oscillations, and as of 2015, deforestation increased again. "Now, in 2019, the sky is the limit", lamented Sirkis.


Source: Projeto Colabora


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