Stop the destruction of 47,000 km² of Amazon rainforest!

Rainforest in the morning mist An area the size of Denmark could be opened for exploitation (© Stéphane Bidouze /Fotolia)

Brazil’s beleaguered President Temer wants to open a vast swathe of protected rainforest – an area the size of Denmark – to mining and industrial agriculture. With this gift to his cronies, he is hoping to keep himself in office and out of prison for corruption on a grand scale.

Call to action

To: the President of Brazil, Michel Temer; the Brazilian National Congress and parliamentary commissions

President Temer, do not sacrifice the Amazon rainforest to keep yourself in power! Do not open Brazil’s protected areas to deforestation.

Read letter

A dense canopy of ancient trees forms a fascinating green mosaic covering vast swathes of northern Brazil. Yet the forest stands on a veritable buried treasure of raw materials: gold, bauxite, iron, copper and manganese.

In 1984, 47,000 square kilometers of rainforest were designated as the Renca preserve, closing the area to international mining companies. The preserve includes parts of seven nature reserves and two reservations of indigenous people.

On August 22, 2017, Brazil’s President Temer issued a decree abolishing the Renca preserve. A few days later, he sent another urgent legislative initiative to the Brazilian National Congress to reduce the next protected rainforest area, the Floresta Nacional do Jamanxim, by 350,000 hectares.

Brazilian environmentalists see the president’s actions as a dirty political game. Temer is under massive pressure and is being investigated for serious corruption. He is currently fighting for his political survival and to stay out of prison with every means at his disposal.

He is said to have averted impeachment in early August 2017 by promising billions in donations to members of the National Congress. He agreed with representatives of the powerful agricultural and mining industries to relax environmental laws and abolish the protected areas. Nearly half of all members of Brazil’s National Congress are currently being investigated for corruption.

Abolishing the preserve would open the rainforest to be plundered by timber, industrial agriculture and mining companies. A federal judge has since temporarily blocked the abolition. The final decision on Renca’s fate will be up to the Brazilian National Congress, however.

Back­ground

Politicians from the state of Amapá protested strongly against President Temer’s abolition of the Renca preserve. Senator Randolfe Rodrigues told the Brazilian media that he was working to overturn the President’s decree. According to the newspaper Diario do Amapá , the senator called the move the “biggest attack on the Amazon rainforest in the last fifty years”. On August 30th, a federal judge temporarily annulled Temer’s decree to abolish Renca.

The Renca preserve

Rich deposits of gold, bauxite, iron ore, copper, manganese and other raw materials exist under the rainforest of the Brazilian states of Amapá and Pará.   To protect the area against foreign businesses, Brazil’s military dictatorship established the Renca (Reserva Nacional de Cobre e seus Associados) preserve in 1984. The creation of this area has prevented the industrial exploitation of the region’s mineral deposits and shielded large parts of the rainforest north of the Amazon against deforestation.

The following rainforest and indigenous protection areas overlap the Renca preserve and are impacted by its abolition:

1. Estação Ecológica do Jari, 2,271 km², established in 1982

2. Parque Nacional Montanhas do Tumucumaque, 38,464.64 km², established in 2002

3. Reserva Biológica de Maicuru, 11,517.6 km², established in 2006

4. Reserva Extrativista Rio Cajari, 5,018 km², established in 1990

5. Floresta Estadual do Paru, 36,129.14 km², established in 2006

6. Reserva de Desenvolvimento Sustentável do Rio Iratapuru, 8,061 km², established in 1997

7. Floresta Estadual do Amapá, 23,694 km², a reservation for indigenous people established in 2006

8. Rio Paru D’este, 11,957.85 km², established in 1997

9. Waiãpi, 5,430 km², a reservation for indigenous people established in 1996

Further information

Publication in the Official Gazette of August 23, 2017, officially abolishing the Renca Preserve (in Portuguese)

Mongabay: Temer’s Amazon mining decrees derided by protestors, annulled by judge

The Guardian: Brazil abolishes huge Amazon reserve in 'biggest attack' in 50 years

The Guardian: Brazilian court blocks abolition of vast Amazon reserve

Al Jazeera: Activists decry Temer's Amazon deforestation bill

Al Jazeera: Brazil suspends Amazon reserve plan, but threats remain

AJ+: This is the “biggest attack on the Amazon in the last 50 years.”

Letter

To: the President of Brazil, Michel Temer; the Brazilian National Congress and parliamentary commissions

Dear Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The abolition and reduction of rainforest and indigenous protected areas in Brazil is a severe blow to nature and human rights.

We find it particularly disturbing that these unacceptable moves seem to be directly linked to the corruption rampant in Brazil.

We call on you to reject any legislative initiatives to this effect, such as the abolition of the Renca preserve and the reduction of the Floresta Nacional do Jamanxim by 350,000 hectares.

Yours faithfully,

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