"We are extremely happy with Lula's decision to protect the
Amazon and the forest people who live here," said Paulo Adario of
Greenpeace in the Amazon. "It's time to celebrate. The legacy of
Chico Mendes has been honoured. With this decision, the Brazilian
Government has shown that the future of the Amazon is not in the
hands of illegal loggers or soya and cattle farmers. It is in the
hands of social justice, environmental protection and the
sustainable use of natural resources by the forest peoples."
With the decision, over 2 million hectares of forests will be
protected. Local families will be granted collective rights to land
and natural resources, allowing them to support themselves through
traditional economic activities while preserving the environment
Farmers and loggers - such as the Mayor of Porto de Moz, Gerson
Campos, and the logging company Madernorte - who have illegally
occupied community areas will be removed. (2) Only properties with
legally valid documents will get financial compensation. The
decrees officially create the Verde Para Sempre (Green Forever)
RESEX in Porto de Moz, and the Riozinho do Anfrisio RESEX, in the
Middle Land, both in the State of Para.
For four years Greenpeace has been working with the communities
of Porto de Moz for the creation of Verde Para Sempre Extractive
Reserve. Greenpeace also supports the establishment of a network of
protected areas in the Middle Land to stop increasing deforestation
led by cattle and soya farming.
The region of Porto de Moz is home to 22,000 people with more
than half of them living in rural areas. For generations they've
used the lands to sustain their families. However, over the last
years many have been expelled from their lands by armed gunmen.
Porto de Moz has become the battleground between forest communities
and logging companies and farmers who illegally occupied the area
(2). The lack of the rule of law in remote regions of the Amazon
feed the impunity, generating more illegalities and
Late last year, IBAMA (the Brazilian Ministry of Environment),
the Army and the Federal Police carried out a field operation to
inspect forest management plans in the region. Millions of cubic
meters of illegal wood were seized. The Greenpeace team was also in
the region, onboard the environmental group's vessel the Arctic
Sunrise. IBAMA, the Federal Police and Greenpeace had come under
attack from local loggers.
Greenpeace promotes ecologically sustainable and socially
responsible forest use, which includes large networks of protected
areas, which are dedicated to conservation of biological diversity
as well a natural and cultural resources. These areas should be
established and managed in accordance with sustainable traditional
cultural practices and should be protected from economical
industrial activities and other practices which could potentially
harm the environment.
Notes: (1) Extractive reserves (RESEX) are areas protected by law designated for the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources by the traditional communities inhabiting them. This model was developed in the 1980s by forest dwellers under the leadership of Chico Mendes and the National Council of Rubber Tappers (CNS) and adopted by the Brazilian Federal government in 1990. The Verde Para Sempre (Green Forever) RESEX was created with 1,288,717 hectares, and Riozinho do Anfrisio has 736,347 hectares.(2) The Mayor of Porto de Moz and logging businessman Gerson Campos controls the Campos' Group. One of the companies of the Group, the Maturu, is involved with illegal logging. He is also one of the land lords of Porto de Moz. He claims to own lands that are in fact public lands - including an area of the National Forest of Caxiuanã. Campos is also one of the largest cattlemen, with more than 5,000 herds. The Federal Public Prosecutor accused Campos for land grabbing (grilagem) and fraud. He was also fined for illegal deforestation.(3) Farmers and loggers easily invade forest areas, open illegal roads and threaten the traditional local people, who depend on the forests for their survival. Industrial exploitation on large scale started in 1990 with the depletion of wood stocks from traditional production centres in the East of Pará after years of intense and predatory logging. Today, many forest areas have been exhaustively exploited and, in many cases, converted into pastures.