Legislative Assembly of Rondônia puts at risk a territory six times larger than the city of Berlin with native forests
One of the largest recent threats against Amazonian Nature Protected Areas is underway in the state of Rondonia, in the Western Amazon, warn social and environmental NGOs from the region.
It targets an area of 537 thousand hectares – six times larger than the city of Berlin, with 11 protected areas, created by former state Governor Confúcio Moura in March 2018.
Eight days after the issuance of the decrees were issued the State Legislature of Rondônia revoked the areas. The state representatives also voted on and enacted a law and a constitutional amendment to effectively prevent the creation of new protected areas in the State.
“This is an unprecedented protected areas dismantling in the history of the Amazon”, state the Associação de Defesa Etnoambiental Kanindé, the Ecoporé and the Pacto das Águas local NGOs in a document release on Tuesday, 15.
Of these 11 areas, four were fully protected (Umirizal and Soldado de Borracha ecological stations and Ilha das Flores and Abaitará state parks). The local NGOs point out that they are sites for protection of biological diversity, for development of scientific research, and for tourism – a source of income that could have economic impacts for the region where the PAs are located.
The other units are for sustainable use, where small farmers and traditional communities can use natural resources. The ownership of these lands by private individuals was not allowed.
The 11 new PAs of Rondônia received financial support from the Amazon Region Protected Areas (ARPA) and compose the goal of creating another six million hectares of protected areas by 2039. The ARPA program invested R$ 657 thousand (approximately $185,000) in the creation of 11 new Conservation Units in Rondônia, in a cooperation between Sedam (Environmental Development Office) of Rondônia, Funbio (Brazilian Biodiversity Fund) and the Ministry of the Environment.
According to the NGOs, this attack against the PAs is not only political. Deforestation is advancing in PAs previously created in the State. In 2016, the latest data point available from INPE (National Institute for Space Research), the PAs of the State of Rondônia lost 164 square kilometers in forest area. Since 2013, over 100 square kilometers were deforested each year in these state protected areas.
The deforestation is more accelerated at the Jaci-Paraná Extractive Reserve, which lost a portion of its area to provide space to increase the dam and the energy production at the Santo Antônio hydroelectric plant. The reduction of this reserve included in a complimentary bill passed in April, two weeks after the 11 PAs were revoked by the State Legislature of Rondônia.
Court of Justice
To stop the offensive of the state deputies, the former governor, on the last day of his term, entered a petition for the declaration of unconstitutionality in the Court of Justice of Rondônia. The prediction is that the judges will vote the petition on the 21st, May.
Even if the State Court rules in favor of the 11 protected areas revoked, the battle will be far from over. Political and deforestation pressures against protected areas, including Indigenous Lands, will continue. Since 2011, Rondônia is one of the three states that lost most forest area in the Amazon.
The pressure of the state deputies to overcome the government and to stifle the creation of new protected areas in the state follows heated, as emphasizes the dossier released on Tuesday.
Going against the decision by the Legislature, twenty two environmental entities released an open letter defending the creation of parks and ecological reserves, areas that gather important river springs and fauna and flora biodiversity. “We consider the decision of the Legislature to be arbitrary and unconstitutional,” said the letter released on March 29.