Amazonia Deforestation to Escalate Due to Infrastructure Plans

The future of the Amazon rainforest is critically threatened by expanded infrastructure development that dramatically increases physical access to the Amazonian frontier. Rainforest loss and diminishment in the Amazon impacts the well-being and ecological sustainability of local peoples, Brazilians and all citizens of the World. Below is an update from Science magazine regarding the threats posed by new roads and other infrastructure development plans in the heart of the Amazon. Forests.org has been instrumental in bringing these scientific findings to a wider audience, and advocating for cancellation of the ill-conceived development plans.
In 2002 and 2003, the rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon climbed to nearly 2.4 million hectares per year, driven by land speculation along the routes of new roads, cattle ranching, and soybean farming. This equals 11 football fields a minute. While the Brazilian government has stepped up satellite monitoring and involved additional ministries to address deforestation, they have steadfastly refused to cancel or significantly revise the large-scale infrastructure development plans predicted to eliminate the Amazon's large, intact and unfragmented rainforest expanses.
All governments have a profound responsibility to protect, conserve and restore natural habitats sufficient to maintain ecosystems and their species. No ecology, no economy or anything else. Given its jurisdiction over the Amazon, the Brazilian government and people are sacredly obligated to safeguard this global ecological engine – stewardship they are failing to provide. I concur with the leading rainforest scientists below, that by failing to “curtail its aggressive plans for infrastructure expansion, Brazil will fail to address one of the most critical root causes of Amazonian deforestation.” Loss of the Amazon as an operable, non-fragmented whole will severely biologically impoverish the Earth – and contribute significantly to the possibility of global ecological Armageddon. Brazil and the World need an intact Amazon to live well and prosper.
g.b.
P.S. As always, this copyrighted article is reproduced for non-commercial use to benefit the struggle to conserve the Earth's rainforests. If you like the information, go buy Science magazine. Read and understand the disclaimer as a condition for email list membership at http://forests.org/info/disclaim.asp
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RELAYED TEXT STARTS HERE:
Title: Deforestation in Amazonia
Source: Copyright 2004, Science, Vol 304, Issue 5674, 1109-1111 Date: May 21, 2004
In recent years, we and others have identified critical threats posed to the forests of Amazonia by the Brazilian government's plans to dramatically expand highways and other major infrastructure projects in the region (1-6). Our conclusions have been disputed by elements of the Brazilian government (7-10), which assert that a key assumption of our spatial models–that new roads and highways will continue to promote large-scale Amazonian deforestation, as they have done in the past–no longer applies. This is so, they argue, because of improvements in frontier governance and environmental-law enforcement, as well as changes in Brazilian public attitudes toward forests (7-10). As a consequence, the Brazilian government is proceeding with the largest expansion of highways, roads, power lines, gas lines, hydroelectric reservoirs, railroads, and river-channelization projects in the history of the Amazon (1-6).
In 2002 and 2003, the rate of deforestation in Brazilian Amazonia climbed to nearly 2.4 million hectares per year (see figure)–equivalent to 11 football fields a minute. This increase mostly resulted from rapid destruction of seasonal forest types in the southern and eastern parts of the basin; relative to preceding years (1990-2001), forest loss shot up by 48% in the states of Par

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