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|Asunto:||[LEA-Venezuela] Fw: FORESTS: Amazon Rainforest Faces Final Assault|
|Fecha:||Martes, 19 de Junio, 2001 11:28:56 (-0400)|
|Autor:||Domingo A. Medina <medinado @.......com>
----- Original Message -----
From: "Glen Barry" <gbarry@...>
To: <Recipient list suppressed>
Sent: Monday, June 18, 2001 11:41 PM
Subject: FORESTS: Amazon Rainforest Faces Final Assault
> FOREST CONSERVATION NEWS TODAY
> Amazon Rainforest Faces Final Assault
> Forest Networking a Project of Forests.org, Inc.
> http://forests.org/ -- Forest Conservation Portal
> http://forests.org/links/ -- Forest Conservation Links
> OVERVIEW & COMMENTARY by Forests.org
> A "final and definitive assault" is being launched on the Amazon's
> rainforests. A tidal wave of major government-backed projects are
> being fast-tracked through Brazil's parliament without much
> consultation - including 10,000km (6,200 miles) of highways, dams,
> power lines, mines, gas and oilfields, canals, ports, logging
> concessions and other developments. The massive 40 billion dollar
> "Advance Brazil" program gives little or no thought to sustainable
> development of the Amazon.
> The latest scientific studies indicate that over the next twenty
> years - a quarter of a single western lifetime - only 5% of the
> Amazon is likely to remain in its wild state. These predictions were
> made in a rigorous, data-intensive study published in Science
> Magazine earlier in the year. The article, entitled "The Future of
> the Brazilian Amazon", is made available on the Internet exclusively
> at http://forests.org/ (featured link in middle of page).
> The Earth and its life are maintained through the sum of its
> ecosystems. The final loss of the World's large and contiguous
> rainforest expanses - in particular the Amazon - would be a tragic,
> global catastrophe. It would mean less rain regionally, more carbon
> release into the atmosphere, and massive species loss. Rainforest
> loss threatens global ecological sustainability.
> Tropical terrestrial ecosystem collapse also threatens international
> security. The US is ready to spend tens of billions of dollars on a
> missile defense system against rogue missiles that may or may not
> pose a threat. Yet they and most of the World's governments pay
> little heed to the certain threats posed to global security by
> collapsing regional and global ecosystems. Every type of global
> ecosystem shows signs of failing - rainforests are disappearing,
> climate is spiraling out of control, marine fisheries are collapsing,
> and water supplies are being exhausted. Collapse of these ecological
> systems represents the final and irrevocable threat to our security.
> Following is a marvelous article. The scientists that are applying
> their craft to rainforest ecosystem protection are heroes.
> RELAYED TEXT STARTS HERE:
> Title: Inside story: Road to oblivion: The Amazon jungle has long
> been ravaged by developers. But now it faces what conservationists
> are calling a 'final assault' from a pounds 29bn superhighways
> Source: Copyright 2001 The Guardian (London)
> Date: June 13, 2001
> Byline: John Vidal
> In 1976, an aeroplane crashed seven miles from the centre of Manaus,
> the largest town in the Amazon forest. People saw where it fell, but
> it took rescuers 10 days to find the wreckage. Today, you could get
> in a car and reach the crash site in 15 minutes. The jungle that was
> there is now a suburb, with paved roads, and, from being a remote
> frontier town of about 50,000 people, Manaus is now Brazil's eighth
> largest city. The sprawling settlement on the north bank of the
> world's greatest river has sprouted hi-tech assembly plants - along
> with slums, drugs and various social problems.
> The aeroplane story was told recently by Dr William Laurance, a
> Smithsonian Institute researcher based at the National Institute for
> Amazonian research in Manaus, to illustrate how rapidly the world's
> greatest forest can be transformed. He and an international team of
> scientists have been trying to predict what the Amazon will look like
> in a generation's time. They spent months examining a Dollars 40bn
> (pounds 29bn) tidal wave of major government-backed projects -
> including 10,000km (6,200 miles) of highways, dams, power lines,
> mines, gas and oilfields, canals, ports, logging concessions and
> other developments - lined up for the Brazilian Amazon. Under a
> project called Avanca Brasil (Advance Brazil), these are being fast-
> tracked through parliament without much consultation. Critics,
> including the WWF (formerly the World Wide Fund for Nature), fear
> that it will be the "final and definitive assault" on the forest.
> The scientists have used the past to predict the future, feeding into
> a super-computer gigabytes of satellite studies and historical data
> about how deforestation has always followed Amazonian developments.
> They hit the button, and the results - just published in the journal
> Science - were shocking. Two-fifths of the world's remaining tropical
> rainforest is in Brazil and only 14% has been felled in the past
> century. But Laurance and his team believe that, within 20 years,
> only 5% of it might remain in its wild state. A further 42%, they
> say, could be totally denuded or heavily degraded. In effect, after
> 20,000 years of barely being touched and even less understood, the
> world's greatest forest would be transformed in a quarter of a single
> western lifetime. Even under the team's alternative, more optimistic
> view, Laurance predicts that well over half the forest in Brazil
> would no longer be in a pristine state within a generation and about
> 30% would have been lost for ever. There was more. Unstated but
> implicit in the findings was the warning that such developments could
> provoke an ecological change that could affect billions of people as
> far away as Europe.
> The Amazon ecosystem, straddling the equator, is one of the great
> generators of world climate. Large-scale deforestation, say Laurance
> and other scientists, could lead to up to 20% less rain fall in the
> region by decreasing evapo-transpiration and solar energy absorption
> - the two main ingredients of cloud formation. It would feed into and
> further exacerbate global warming by releasing vast amounts of
> carbon. Severe, though unpredictable, consequences could follow for
> much of the world.
> When Laurance's paper was published, the Brazilian government
> fiercely disputed some of the data. Laurance's team then spent 10
> days triple-checking their facts. If anything, they found their
> forecasts had been conservative.
> "We were shocked and very surprised at the results," says Laurance.
> "We were not being alarmist. This was solid, empirical data. We kept
> finding more and more information." The present government, like
> others before it, has never quite known what to do with the Amazon
> forest except to "develop" it. In the past, it has barely had the
> means to do this, but now, international finance is widely available
> and pressure is mounting from giant agribusiness.
> The authorities say the motor for Brazil's "infrastructural
> development" of the Amazon will be the 10,000 kms of new or upgraded
> "superhighways" planned to crisscross the region in place of dirt
> tracks built in the 1970s.
> However, history shows that when all-weather roads are built, they
> open a Pandora's Box of ecological, geopolitical and social change.
> Laurance predicts 100km (62-mile) corridors of deforestation, farming
> and settlements either side of the new roads. Build a highway in
> Brazil and, inevitably, come colonists, ranchers and loggers, he
> The most controversial development is the BR-163, a proposed 960km
> road from Cuiaba north to the Amazon port of Santarem. Like most
> locals, Santarem's vice-mayor, Alexander Wanghon, favours the new
> road because it will bring economic and political benefit, even
> making the town the capital of the proposed new state of Tapajos. But
> he fears it, too. "It will come like a hurricane," he says "Our
> concern is to discipline the occupation that will follow." Brazil has
> some of the world's most far-sighted environmental laws, but its
> ability to police them has proved almost impossible.
> The rush has started. The government's plan is to open up the Amazon
> to soya farming. The BR-163 will allow giant grain producers in the
> Matto Grosso region to the south to export their crops to Europe via
> Santarem far more quickly and cheaply. It could mean, says Wanghon,
> up to 20m tonnes of crops thundering up the BR-163 to the river each
> year with an invasion of people and development in their wake.
> Laurance and others forecast that up to 49,000 sq km of forest will
> be destroyed by the road, with a similar amount put at risk of fire.
> Speculators from all over Brazil are already buying up land along its
> route and oiling the chainsaws, says Wanghon. A dozen or more global
> companies have bid to build a new port terminal in Santarem and the
> contract has gone to Cargill, the world's largest soya exporter. ADM,
> another major agribusiness, is building local storage facilities and
> nearby forest is already being cleared for more farmland.
> Feverish activity is under way, too, at Sinop, at the other end of
> the BR-163 and on the northern margin of Brazil's soya belt. There,
> land speculators and soya-bean growers and traders anticipate
> extending their farmlands farther north into the forest.
> The BR-163 will end Santarem's isolation, but it will open it to the
> global market and social ills, according to Maria Martins, a labour
> politician and state attorney. "I favour the road - but we are very,
> very worried," she says. "People can hear the mermaid sing. They are
> moving in. The road will bring inevitable problems such as child
> prostitution. It may only help the rich."
> The new roads will fragment the forest and start an irreversible
> cycle of degradation, fire risk and possible eventual
> desertification, leaving vast tracts of land unfarmable because of
> drought, says David McGrath, professor of Amazonian studies at
> Brazil's University of Para. He spent 30 years in Amazonia, much of
> it studying fire risk, and identifies what he calls the "vicious
> feedbacks" of road building in the Amazon.
> What starts with increased land supply along the roads leads to
> deforestation and accidental fires, which, in turn, encourages
> farming and more deforestation which then inhibits rainfall. In 1998
> alone, 40,000 sq km of Amazonian forest was burned.
> "Fire begets fire," he says. "Once an area burns, up to 40% of the
> trees can die. This increases the likelihood of a second fire.
> Eventually, the forest ceases to become a forest as the successive
> fires allow the invasion of the understorey by grasses, which make
> the area even more flammable." He expects up to 270,000 sq km of
> forest to be felled in the new rush and millions of acres to become
> prone to fire.
> The BR-163 is one of many roads planned. Others will link Manaus to
> the south-west. The Trans-Amazon highway will open an east-west
> route. Giant new waterways are to be carved through rapids to allow
> grain barges to reach the main rivers, and big timber companies are
> moving in. Much land reserved for indigenous groups is likely to be
> "Until now it was impossible to transform the Amazon. It was too
> vast. But now it can be done," says McGrath. "The trouble is the
> vision is just to asphalt the highways and let the timber and the
> soya beans out, and encourage land speculation, ranching and
> squatting in. There's no thought of a sustainable Amazon."
> Yet until his and Laurance's research was made public, few Brazilians
> had any idea of the scale of the plans. A fierce debate has now
> broken out, with the federal government on the defensive. Meanwhile,
> northern environmentalists, indigenous peoples' support groups such
> as Survival and others have begun an international campaign to get
> the government to mitigate the potential destruction.
> Amazonas Mendes, the governor of Amazonas state, of which Manaus is
> the capital, is not impressed by outsiders' concerns. They are, he
> says, "ill-informed and lack objectivity. The federal plans are timid
> and will not affect the core of the forest which until now has been
> barely denuded."
> Mendes, who claims to be "green" but who admits handing out chainsaws
> to farmers in an election rally, argues that the new roads will not
> bring development or destruction. He argues that the state faces
> ecological disaster only if, as expected, the government ends
> Manaus's free-port status and stops its Dollars 50m-a-year subsidy.
> "Amazonas state depends on Manaus which depends on the free zone," he
> says. "If the subsidies go it will be a total disaster. People will
> have no work. They will go to the forest and destroy it as in other
> Ecologists and development workers argue that the vast region must be
> managed along ecological lines, for the sake of everyone. "It needs a
> comprehensive plan with a vision of what Brazil wants the Amazon to
> be in 50 years' time," says McGrath. "It needs to ask what sort of
> roads and development it wants. It needs intensive development around
> the existing centres to help local people. It needs to respect basic
> ecological laws. If it is not done properly, it will only be a
> process of squandering resources. It will be a disaster."
> At stake, says Laurance, is nothing less than the fate of the
> greatest rainforest on earth.
> ###RELAYED TEXT ENDS###
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> For additional forest conservation news & information please see the
> Forest Conservation Portal at URL= http://forests.org/
> Networked by Forests.org, Inc., gbarry@...
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