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Marcela Leiros, Bruno Pacheco and Cassandra Castro – from Cenarium

MANAUS and BRASÍLIA – Pará is the Amazon State that had the most protected areas – such as indigenous lands, quilombola territories and conservation units – pressured and threatened in one year. Seven of the ten most pressured areas and five of the ten most threatened areas in the Amazon are located in the state. Among all the protected areas, the Tapajós APA, a federal conservation unit also in Pará, was the most pressured.

The threatened areas are those where deforestation was detected within 10 kilometers from the protected areas or pressure if they are within these territories. The data are from the survey “Deforestation Threat and Pressure in Protected Areas”, published by the Institute of Man and Environment of the Amazon (Imazon), which identifies and accounts for all the occurrences detected by Imazon’s Deforestation Alert System (SAD) in areas of 100 km² in the Legal Amazon.

Read also: Arara people from Cachoeira Seca, in PA, go to Brasília to denounce rampant deforestation

In the ranking of pressured protected areas, after APA Tapajós, is the Pará state conservation unit APA Triunfo do Xingu and Resex Chico Mendes, a federal conservation unit in Acre. The Resex also topped the list of all the most threatened protected areas in the Amazon. It was followed by the Parna Mapinguari, a federal unit that is in Amazonas and Rondônia, and the APA do Lago de Tucuruí, a state conservation unit also in Pará.

The Imazon researcher, Antônio Fonseca, pointed out that the Institute identifies deforestation “from outside to inside” the areas, which intensifies with the lack of inspection and punishment of offenders. “We can see that this movement starts with deforestation occurring around these protected areas and a few months later ends up entering these territories because there is no effective supervision in the sense of conserving and preserving biodiversity. Since there is no initiative to identify and punish the violators, this deforestation ends up advancing even further into these protected territories”, he explained.

The ten most pressured Protected Areas (P) (Reproduction/Imazon)
The ten most threatened protected areas (A) (Reproduction/Imazon)

Indigenous

Among the Indigenous Lands (TIs), the Yanomami, located in the Amazonas and Roraima, was the one with the highest number of occurrences within its territory, that is, the most pressured between August 2020 and July 2021. This year, the area was the target of attacks by miners, which motivated legal actions for protection.

Read also: Special – Yanomami Tragedy: The advance of gold mining

Of the other nine indigenous territories most under pressure from deforestation, seven are in Pará. They are, respectively, the Indigenous Lands: Apyterewa, Munduruku, Cachoeira Seca do Iriri, Trincheira/Bacajá, Andirá-Marau (whose territory is also in Amazonas), Kayapó and Alto Rio Guamá.

Among the indigenous areas most threatened, the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau TI, in Rondônia, was at the top of the ranking. And, as with the cases of pressure, Pará was the state with the greatest number of threatened indigenous lands, with six of the ten Indigenous Lands with the highest number of occurrences. Respectively, they are: Trincheira/Bacajá, Parakanã, Baú, Cachoeira Seca do Iriri, Kayapó, and Arara.

Indigenous Lands – TIs (Reproduction/Imazon)

Between August 2020 and July 2021, there were more than 10,000 occurrences of forest devastation within or within 10 kilometers of these territories, 13% more than in the previous period between August 2019 and July 2020.

Between August 2020 and July 2021, 7,005 occurrences (66%) were classified as threat and 3,565 (34%) as pressure. “This indicates that, in general, there were more cases of deforestation around protected areas than within them, which serves as a warning for the need for actions to further prevent the advance of destruction”, says Imazon.

Intense pace

For researcher Antônio Fonseca, what draws attention with the intense pace of deforestation in Pará is the amount of protected areas that are being illegally occupied, by means of forest destruction. The highlight goes to the indigenous lands, which have been targets of mining actions, highlights the specialist.

“Pará, as well as the other states, has presented an intense rhythm of deforestation and what draws attention here is the question of the quantity of protected areas that are being occupied illegally, through deforestation. We highlight, especially through the data that is being shown in the study, that indigenous lands have been the main targets, especially with the advance of mining areas”, comments Fonseca.

Mine closed in “Operation Napuru”, in Pará, November 2020 – Photo: Ascom/PF

A concrete danger

Two months away from the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), the evidence of concrete danger not only to the biodiversity of these areas, but also to their inhabitants, reveals the consequences taken by the public power, according to the assessment of Adriana Ramos, socioenvironmental policy specialist of the Socioenvironmental Institute (ISA). “The deforestation figures demonstrate the inevitable effect of the Brazilian government’s speeches and policies, which have stimulated illegalities in the Amazon, especially illegal mining within indigenous lands”, Adriana Ramos points out.

The data presented in the survey “Deforestation Threat and Pressure in Protected Areas” are an alert to the need for action to stop the advance of deforestation. Besides the government’s anti-environmental discourse, the researcher also cites other causes that may have contributed to this advance of destruction to these areas:

“The survey shows that the changes made in the way of doing enforcement, with the transfer of the coordination of actions to the Ministry of Defense did not work. The paralyzing of the collection of fines is also a measure that weakens the entire environmental management, because it protects the transgressors, strengthening the notion of impunity”, said Adriana.

Adriana Ramos says that the government needs to resume a consistent plan to control deforestation that strengthens the inspection and accountability of environmental crimes without forgetting to guarantee the territorial rights of indigenous people and traditional communities. “It is also essential to resume the Amazon Fund, which still has R$ 3 billion that should be supporting projects to promote the sustainable use of forests”, she concludes.

Historical factor

The secretary-general of the National Council of Extractivist Populations (CNS), Dione Torquato, also blames poor public administration and the negative influence of the federal government for the sequential increase in deforestation in these areas. “The pressure suffered by traditional communities in their territories with the increase in land grabbing, mining and illegal logging does have an influence on the government when it fails to take more rigid action on environmental crimes committed”, he stressed.

The deforestation in Pará, which usually leaves the region with the highest rates of forest destruction, comes from a historical factor, according to the evaluation of the lawyer and environmental consultant in the capital Belém, José Carlos Lima. To CENARIUM, he reminds that, in the Military Government plan, after 1964, the State of Pará was chosen to be the new agricultural frontier of Brazil, occupying the territory with federal roads and settlements for the expansion of agriculture, in the logic of “men without land, for land without man”.

“The civil governments, after the re-democratization, continued to act in the region in an unplanned way and allowed the illegal activities of loggers, gold miners, sojourners and cattle ranchers to build a trail of destruction, taking advantage of the great land chaos and the inefficient command and control policy”, highlights the consultant.

The actions to secure part of the biodiversity, he reminds us, were taken through the creation of Conservation Units and the demarcation of indigenous and quilombola lands. “However, without an inspection apparatus of the size and importance, the protected areas are the target of illegal land grabbers and deforesters, who receive protection from local politicians”, criticizes the specialist.

Still according to José Lima, the federal roads opened in Pará, such as the Transamazônica and the BR-163, allowed loggers and gold miners to access remote areas with great biodiversity, a factor that contributed to the deforestation of large areas, many of which, land not yet collected.

“The fires in the Amazon region of Pará are all man-made. Capoeira is burned, after the illegal extraction of wood, to transform the area into pasture. Also, the use of fire is still practiced in the region to clean the area that will be used for planting crops, however, the impact of this ancestral practice is much lower than the burnings for the use of land as pasture or for planting grains”, he reinforces.

Check out the complete study on the link.