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Reduction in Protected Area in State of Pará Benefits Land Owners

06/12/2017 - 12h22

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FABIANO MAISONNAVE
SPECIAL ENVOY TO NOVO PROGRESSO (Pará)

It's the greatest environmental crime ever recorded in the Jamanxim (Flona) National Forest (State of Pará). Nearly seven thousand hectares reclaimed by just one family. The area belonging to the Mayor was spotted last Thursday (the 8th) undergoing flagrant illegal deforestation.

All such cases will be subject to regularization if President Temer approves provisional measure (MP) 756. Approved with alterations made by Congress last month, it calls for a reduction in protection for 486,000 hectares of the Flona do Jamanxim - 37% of the total area.

This area, equal in dimensions to three municipalities the size of São Paulo, was reclassified as an Environmental Protection Area (APA), a category that allows for human habitation and deforestation for activities like agriculture and mining.

Among those benefitting from the deactivation process (exclusion from the Flona area) is Pedro Cordeiro, known as the largest deforester in the Flona. With an address listed in Curitiba, he has never been located in order to be served with fines of R$ 45 million (US$ 14 million) for having previously deforested 4.575 hectares.

Four other contiguous lots with a total area of 6.958 hectares were also reclassified under the APA category and reclaimed by the family of Jaime Zaminhan.

Avener Prado/Folhapress
Flona do Jamanxim
Flona do Jamanxim

One of the oldest "grileiros" (land grabbers) in the Flona, Zaminhan was caught flagrantly with 169 tree trunks stolen from public lands in 2002. He was fined R$ 32,000 (US$ 9,700) at the time which still hasn't been paid.

Another individual benefiting from the process is the Mayor of Novo Progresso, Ubiraci Soares da Silva. Fiscal agents spotted flagrant deforestation on his lot of nearly 1 thousand hectares. He has already received fines of R$1,9 million (US$ 580,000).

One week ago, the Environmental Minister, Zequinha Sarney, said that he "firmly" believes that Temer "will apply vetoes" to MPs 756 and 758, which reduce the protection of 587,000 hectares surrounding the stretch of highway BR-163 in Pará, an area where 70% of the recent deforestation of the Legal Amazon is taking place.

Translated by LLOYD HARDER

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