Proposed Bill Wants to Open Lençóis Maranhenses to Development

Proposal will allow tourism businesses and remove villages from protected area

João Pedro Pitombo

The Lençóis Maranhenses National Park might have its borders changed, opening areas for tourist resorts and removing about 2000 people who live inside the park.

The proposal to change the park boundaries is in the Senate and has the support of the Bolsonaro government. Within the proposal, villages such as Travosa, Betânia, and Ponta Mangue will no longer be part of the environmental protection area and will have more flexibility for development.

With an area of 150,000 hectares, Lençóis Maranhenses is an ecosystem formed by dunes, freshwater lagoons, sandbanks, and mangroves. The national park was created in 1981.

Lençóis Maranhenses (MA) (Foto: Zanone Fraissat/Folhapress, AGENCIA)

The prospect of boundary changes in the park has led to criticism from environmentalists and anthropologists, generating concern among villagers. Local politicians are also debating the issue.

The proposal could also reduce the economic potential of a possible concession to operate services within the park. The perennial lagoons that generate tourist flow throughout the year would be left outside the park.

The removal of villages will cause the number of people living in the Lençóis Maranhenses to fall from 2,603 inhabitants to 588. Formed by farmers, fishermen, and shellfish farmers, the traditional communities that will forced out could no longer live on the resources within the park.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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