Government against the environment

Provisional executive orders threaten conservation areas in the Amazon

Foto: Vinicius Mendonça / Ibama Foto: Vinicius Mendonça / Ibama

Two provisional executive orders pending in Congress threaten protected areas in the Amazon either by moving their boundaries or altering their conservation status. Civil society organizations sent a joint letter to the President of Brazil and to the speakers of the Lower House of Congress and the Senate expressing their opposition to the measures.

Provisional Executive Order No. 756 proposes to reduce a number of protected areas in the state of Pará – in the area of influence of the BR-163 highway, a strategic region for preventing the definitive fragmentation of the Amazon – transforming 486,000 hectares into what is known as an Environmental Protection Area, the most lenient conservation category.

Order No. 758, meanwhile, alters the boundaries of the Jamanxim National Park and the Tapajós Environmental Protection Area to enable infrastructure construction, such as the Ferrogão railroad. “By promoting an infrastructure project of this scale without increasing governance standards and by reducing the size of the conservation areas in its area of influence while also rewarding speculators with registration of appropriated land, the government and Congress are pushing the Amazon closer towards its definitive dismemberment,” said the organizations in the letter sent to the authorities.

Furthermore, Conectas and the partner organizations expressed concern over compliance with international treaties: “We believe that this escalated reduction of conservation areas in the Amazon poses a risk to the international commitments made by Brazil within the UN Conventions on Climate Change and Biodiversity and it also threatens agriculture and the water supply in the Center-South of country, since the Amazon is responsible for a large part of the rainfall that occurs in this region.”

The letter signed by 18 organizations – among them the Socioambiental Institute and WWF-Brasil – appeals to the rulers that if there really is a need to decommission protected areas in the name of the national interest, then this should be done not with provisional executive orders but instead with legislative bills, for which the process is more democratic. Moreover, they stressed the importance of listening to the scientific community and civil institutions that work with sustainable development before making any changes to conservation areas.

Click here to read the letter in full.


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