Amazonian Forests, Brazilian “Environmental” Law and the Arguable Role of Foreign NGOs

Brazilian franchises of international environmental NGOs are attempting to attack the Brazilian Congress and Executive Branch under the pretext that changing an old law on forestry and soil protection will result in great damage for the environment.  It is a lie, ocasionally with the intention of promoting international fund raising or even to protect US agribusiness interests.  Not to adapt the current so named “forest code” would result in the destruction of 30 million hectares – at least – of existing Brazilian agriculture, including most vineyards and fruit production in the Southern part of the country, coffee and also production in the State of Minas Gerais, and much more.  As for the Amazonian rainforest, it is worth hightlighting that about 50% of it is already totally protected and conservation units (parks and other) and indian reserves.  Therefore, one can say that these foreign NGOs – such as Greenpeace and WWF – are attacking the Brazilian agricultural production and food security.

The so called “forest code” was enacted in the early stage of military regime and its first article states that “forests and other forms of vegetation are of public interest when designated as such for the purpose of protecting the soil”.  This focus on erosion and soil losses was later “forgotten” on behalf of the mask of a “modern environmental law”.  It is not the case at all.  Even after the military regime, when the Congress had no effetive powers, several amendments were made to the law based on instruments of that regime such as Provisory Measures – Medida Provisoria (MP)-, a sort of decree issued by the Executive Branch which was turned into a law when NOT voted by the Congress within a certain short period.  In a later stage,  MPs had to be voted within a short period but could be reissued unlimitedly.  A from the US ambassador in Brazil published by Wikileaks expresses his suprise with the fact that a MP on the “legal reserves” in the Amazonian region was reissued more than 70 times and was strangely considered as effective although never approved by the Congress.]

A “legal” reserve is an old concept of the first version of the so called “forest code”, enacted in the 1930s: 20% of each individual property should be kept as a forestry reserve.  At the time, the Brazilian Government was concerned about fuel supplies – then existing railroads fuel supply was wood – and 20% of rural properties were expected to produce wood (the British navy had similar concerns about wood reserves for shippyards before the times of iron and steel).  This concept was kept in the version of the law passed by the military, except for the Amazonian region, where the legal reserve was 50% of individual properties.  Was that a signal of environmental concerns?  Not really.

As a matter of fact, in a previous period – in the 1950s – , the Brazilian government was promoting human occupation of the Amazonian region by donating land to farmers from the Southern part of the country who were willing to migrate, the rule of thumb to prove that such individuals were effectively settled they HAD TO remove 50% of the forested area.  Very similar to the occupation of the West in the US.  Then, in the 1990s, when the French Le Monde published data from sattelites demonstrating that rates of deforestation in the Amazonian region were very high, the government of then president Cardoso decided to enact… a Provisory Measure – a non-democratic provision created by the military rulers – increasing the “legal reserve” in the region to 80% from prior 50%.  It was just for international public image – a major concern of president Cardoso –, and this was the MP reported by the US ambassador as strangely “reenacted more than 70 times, never voted by usually considered as effective”.  As a result, farmers that were invited to colonize the Amazonian region went to bed at night in compliance with the law and woke up with their properties in illegal status.  Who cared?  Not even themselves, who live and work in remote áreas!

These are among the folks who foreign NGOs now claim that will be benefited by an “amnesty” for deforestation and even “environmental crimes”.

It is worth remarking that the last census indicated that there are about 25 million people Brazilians living in the Amazonian region.

(To follow… but WHO FUNDS these foreign NGOs’ activities against the Brazilian agriculture?)

Publicado por

Luiz Prado

Quando estudante de Economia, já no segundo ano da faculdade, caiu-me nas mãos o relatório Limites para o Crescimento, encomendado pelo Clube de Roma ao MIT. Para quem não sabe, o Clube de Roma era um encontro anual de dirigenes de grandes corporações para dividir mercados. No período anterior, Agnelli propôs que discutissem, também, fontes de suprimento de matérias-primas. Como não tinham as informações, encomendaram o estudo sobre o tema ao MIT. Limites para o crescimento era algo impensável na teoria econômia! - e os economistas ainda continuam medindo o mundo pelo tal crescimento do PIB! Daí para apaixonar-me por recursos naturais foi um pulo. E passei a vida trabalhando sobre o tema.

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