Rondônia lost almost 70,000 soccer fields to logging in one year

Porto Velho, the capital of the state of Rondonia, concentrated 42% of the environmental damage. (Reproduction/Imaflora)

Iury Lima – from Cenarium

VILHENA (RO) – Logging was responsible for the disappearance of 69,794 hectares of vegetation, or the equivalent of almost 70,000 soccer fields, in Rondônia, between August 2019 and July 2020. The unprecedented research on the third largest state in the North region pointed out that, of this total, 5,814 hectares were devastated without any kind of environmental license, therefore, illegally, and Porto Velho, the capital of Rondonia, concentrated 42% of such damage.

The data are from the Logging Monitoring System (Simex Network), composed by the Institute of Man and Environment of the Amazon (Imazon), the Institute for Conservation and Sustainable Development of Amazonas (Idesam), the Institute for Forest Management and Certification (Imaflora) and the Center of Life Institute (ICV). Together, the four institutions survey the size of the destruction caused by the practice throughout the Amazon, whether legalized or not. In all, the tropical forest, considered the largest on the planet by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), lost an area of more than half a million hectares during the period of a year.

Wood illegally taken from an Indigenous Land in Rondônia. (Reproduction/Federal Police)

Municipalities in a critical situation

Porto Velho was in 1st place in the ranking of municipalities in Rondonia that have most devastated the Amazon forest through wood extraction. The capital has cut down 29,646 hectares of vegetation. Machadinho d’Oeste comes next, with 8,129 hectares, and Candeias do Jamari, with 6,317 hectares, in third place. In all, ten municipalities appear in a critical situation. The list closes with Vilhena (705 kilometers from Porto Velho), responsible for the exploitation of about 1,500 soccer fields.

In all, ten cities present the most alarming data. (Art: Simex Network)

These ten municipalities also generated, in all, 75% of the total amount of roundwood produced in Rondonia, which was 1,150,830 cubic meters.

CityProduction of roundwood in 2020 (cubic meters)
Porto Velho418.863
Machadinho D’Oeste68.772
Candeias do Jamari103.148
Itapuã do Oeste31.188
Rio Crespo27.892
Pimenta Bueno54.696
State of Rondônia1.150.830
Table shows production of wood logs. Source: Simex Network

Lack of transparency

According to the Simex Network, “due to the lack of complete public data, it was not possible to analyze the legality of logging in the entire territory of Rondonia”, a huge failure of state management, in the assessment of Imaflora’s senior project coordinator, Marco Lentini.

“The lack of available data on forest areas licensed for exploitation in the state, in fact, makes it difficult for the systems and tools developed by civil society to better characterize the problem, and even for such information to support enforcement actions, command and control”, said Lentini in an interview to CENARIUM.

Imaflora’s senior project coordinator, Marco Lentini. (Reproduction/Imaflora)

Lentini believes it is fundamental that the State, specialists, and third sector entities can dialogue and work together to find solutions, “both to make the control licensing routines more efficient, and to design market and promotion strategies that support producers interested in legality”, pointed out the specialist.

“In the absence of this information, the extent of the damage caused by illegal exploitation is not known. However, people can keep in mind that one of the negative indicators of this situation is the increase in the exploitation of legally protected areas, such as Indigenous Lands and Full Protection Conservation Units, as well as deforestation, which continue to grow in the Amazon and in the state of Rondônia, which is no exception”, he highlighted.

(Un)protected areas

Marco Lentini’s assessment on environmental preservation areas is accurate when he points out that the lack of transparency fuels the growth of devastation. The current study conducted by the Simex Network determines that, of the almost 70 thousand soccer fields of trees uprooted, about 5 thousand were inside Indigenous Lands (TIs) and Conservation Units (UCs), that is, illegally.

The TI most affected was Tubarão Latunde, located in Chupinguaia, concentrating 68% of the exploitations carried out within the territories of traditional people, in Rondonia. The TI, where 195 people from three different ethnic groups live, lost 2,242 hectares. Rio Omerê was another devastated territory, with the loss of 1,065 hectares.

As for the fully protected areas, where logging is also prohibited, 86% of the exploitation affected the Campos Amazônicos National Park. “The protected area is located in northern Rondônia, on the border with Amazonas and Mato Grosso, a region that faces high pressure from forest destruction”, detailed the study.

Illegal logging has advanced over 5 thousand hectares inside Indigenous Lands and Conservation Units. (Art: Simex Network)

For the senior coordinator of Imaflora Projects, the Conservation Units and the Indigenous Lands have become the target of a set of illegal actions, from illegal exploitation, mining and subsequent deforestation, with the intention of land grabbing and land speculation.

“These areas have become very vulnerable, in recent years, due to the generalized drop in resources directed to different federal and state entities for inspection, control, land planning, land regularization, and licensing. Besides this, we know today that the fragility of the control systems allows wood illegally extracted from these areas to be ‘warmed up’, that is, it can still reach the markets with documents that prove its supposed legality”, concluded Lentini.

The activist, technologist in Environmental Management and Counselor of the Association for the Ethnoenvironmental Defense Kanindé, from Rondônia, Edjales Benício, lamented the devastation of protected areas. He fears the delay for the recovery of the Amazon biome in places often affected, “if it is possible to recover in some cases”, as he says himself. “The impact is very strong. The destruction, unfortunately, is much faster than the construction”, he declared.


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