If Brazil legalizes extra mining within the Amazon, deforestation will enhance, examine says
- July 29, 2022
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Legalizing mining on indigenous lands and other protected areas in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest would lead to new deforestation of thousands of square kilometers, according to a study published on Thursday.
President Jair Bolsonaro advocates new mining in protected areas of the Amazon rainforest, arguing that informal mining should be legalized to help lift the region out of poverty.
Advocates of legalization claim that the sector would be more regulated and thus conserve forest cover, but the study’s authors concluded that this is not the case.
The study showed that such policies would put the world’s largest rainforest at risk, accelerating deforestation that fuels climate change.
Published in the journal Nature Sustainability, the study modeled what would happen if 10 areas in the states of Amapá and Pará were opened to mining, including the Cobre e Associados National Reserve (Renca), two indigenous territories and several nature reserves.
This would allow for the development of about 242 additional mineral deposits of gold, copper and other minerals, according to the study. But this development would also lead to the deforestation of around 7,626 square kilometers – an area equivalent to 5 times the city of São Paulo – in the next 30 years.
The researchers compared this to an estimated 4,254 square kilometers of deforestation if protections continue in their current form.
“The article outlines the size of the damage and what could happen if the incentive for mining in protected areas continues to be promoted by this government,” said Ane Alencar, director of science at the Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia (Ipam), who did not participate. of the research.
The mines themselves would create relatively little direct deforestation, but building new roads to reach them would allow illegal loggers, land grabbers and ranchers easier access to relatively untouched parts of the forest.
The potential destruction would be even greater if the same methodology were applied throughout the Amazon, according to Juliana Siqueira-Gay, an environmental engineer and lead author of the study.
New mining areas are often in some of the most biodiverse areas on the planet and should only be opened if there are plans to prevent this further destruction, said she, who conducted the study while at the University of São Paulo and now works at the think tank for sustainability Instituto Escolhas.
According to Philip Fearnside, an ecologist at the National Institute for Research in the Amazon (Inpa), the study informs the political debate by quantifying what is at stake, but argues that the authors should go further.
“I would just say, ‘No, don’t open for mining,’” Fearnside said.