Two pieces of depressing news from the Amazon. First, the price of gold has increased, leading to increased mining and increased deforestation. Second, Brazil is planning to invest US$120 billion in large-scale infrastructure projects in the Amazon region.REDD is supposed to make forests worth more standing than cut down. But can REDD compete with a price of gold
approaching US$2,000 an ounce? Not in Peru. Writing on mongabay.com
, Barbara Fraser describes a “dead zone” that is “spreading across the southern Peruvian rain forest” as a result of the expansion of gold mining.The Brazilian government is planning to create an “export corridor” in the north of the Amazon, through a series of new hydropower dams, roads, electricity transmission systems, mines, and agro-industrial projects. According to a recent article
in Folha de Sao Paulo
, the government is considering legal changes to accelerate the developments (and the deforestation), including “expressly granting of environmental licenses, the creation of laws that allow mining on indigenous lands, and changing the system of administration of environmentally protected areas”. In 10 years, the country will be largest supplier of food in the world, predicts
the National Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock of Brazil (CNA).Meanwhile, in a letter from a workshop held in Acre
, Brazil, 28 organisations criticise REDD and the commodification of nature.
UPDATE – 21 October 2011: The letter is also available in Portuguese, here.
The letter describes a law regulating the State System of Incentives for Environmental Services passed in October 2010 as anti-constitutional. The law was created without adequate debate with the indigenous peoples and local communities – the people affected by the law. “[T]his legislation generates ‘environmental assets’ in order to negotiate natural resources on the ‘environmental services’ market, such as the carbon market,” the letter states.
REDD is condemned for allowing “the powerful capitalist countries to maintain their current levels of production, consumption and, therefore, pollution”. While REDD strips communities of their rights to manage their own territories, it does little or nothing to address the root causes of deforestation. Thanks to the magic of “sustainable development”, unfettered capitalism is transformed from a danger to a solution. “Perhaps at no other time,” write the authors of the letter, “have cattle ranchers and logging companies met with a more favourable scenario.”