Na revista Forbes: "Is Brazil Destroying The Amazon For Energy?"

For environmentalists, it’s possibly a deal with the devil. For government conservation groups with boots on the ground in the biggest jungle on Earth, it’s the only compromise to keep the Amazon safe, and expand Brazil’s reliance on clean energy.
The problem is, that in order to build that clean energy, thousands of acres of pristine Amazon rainforest will have to be cut up and inundated with river water to build hydroelectric dams like Belo Monte, currently the largest ongoing hydroelectric project in the world.
Who said women were stewards of the environment?  Brazil’s first woman president, Dilma Rousseff wants to eliminate more than 86,000 hectares of protected areas in the Amazon — the equivalent to the area of 161,000 Rio de Janeiro Flamenco, Manchester United and New York Giants stadiums.  The immediate reason? To make way for at least two large hydroelectric dams being worked out on paper, including the Tapajos project — an 8,000 megawatt power station the government would like to see built on the border of Para and Amazonas states.
A new provisional measure, known as MP 558 in Brazil, has been challenged as unconstitutional in the Supreme Court by Federal Public Prosecutors who allege that MP 558 signed by Rousseff on Jan. 5 violates the Brazilian Constitution and the country’s environmental laws. They say that the government’s two pet projects, including Tapajos, do not have environmental impact studies in hand. That means nothing can be built. But the government’s Ministry of the Environment says that the reason they don’t have an impact study is because the government’s Energy Ministry wants to build them in conservation areas. There can’t be an impact study done on a project to be build in a protected area because, by law, the project cannot be built.  So in order to build them in those conservation areas, the government has to reduce that area.  That is exactly what MP 558 does.
”This change signals a growing tendency within the federal government, already visible with Belo Monte, to blatantly disregard environmental legislation in the rush to construct over 60 large dams in the Amazon,” says Brent Millikan, Amazon Program Director at International Rivers, a California-based NGO working with local indigenous groups in Para state to thwart hydroelectric dams whenever they can.
“The (Brazilian) President is backtracking on Brazil’s environmental commitments, and will use any means necessary to push through an agenda of expensive mega-infrastructure projects in the Amazon, reminiscent of the military dictatorship in the 1970s,” Millikan says. “It begs the question, who will protect the Amazon…if not the government?”

What is the Amazon?

For people who have never been to Brazil, the Amazon is a massive jungle full of anacondas, howler monkeys and lost Indian tribes. To the Brazilian government, and to the Brazilian people, it is more than that.  In Amazonas state, the largest state in the north Brazil, Manaus city is home to 1.8 million people, nearly half the state’s 3.4 million population, according to the Brazilian census bureau IBGE’s 2010 data. In Para, another large Amazon state, there are 7.5 million inhabitants.  That doesn’t count the five other states, including parts of Mato Grosso, that constitute the Amazon biome, Brazil’s largest geographic area bar none.  Over six million people live in those five states, and they need to work, they need to eat, and they need electricity. And, their numbers are growing. It is the one part of Brazil where the population is growing fastest. It is the emerging market within the emerging nation that is Brazil. To keep the lights on without burning fossil fuels, Brazil is committed to hydro power.
Hydroelectricity accounts for nearly 85% of Brazil’s electricity. The country currently has a surplus of energy, but that surplus is dwindling and will be in deficit mode by 2015 unless Brazil builds more power plants. Now, they can build more coal fired power plants like Forbes billionaire Eike Batista is doing on the northeastern coast with his Pecem I and Pecem II facilities; they can build more nuclear power plants south of Rio de Janeiro like government owned Angra I and Angra II; or they can do what Brazil has always done: build dams on its overabundance of rivers.
The only place left to build them, is in the Amazon.
Flying over the Amazon is like flying over the ocean…looking left to right doesn’t change the view: it’s green as far as the eye can see, with blue veins of rivers cutting through it. It’s amazing that anybody actually lives there.  One look at the map of where Brazil power giant Eletrobras (EBR) hopes to one day build the Tapajos dam and it’s obvious: green and blue. No brown. No urban centers.  This is the Garden of Eden. Yet, despite the sparsity of human life, millions still call this place home.

The Laws and the Locals

On January 6, the Brazilian government announced MP 558 was officially signed and ready for Congress to enact it into law. Amazon state prosecutors immediately tried to knock it out of commission in the Supreme Court. Nothing has happened yet, both from the court and from Congress. No dates for a vote or  a judgement have been made as of Feb. 27.
Federal prosecutors from Para to Acre have tried unsuccessfully to stop the building of three hydroelectric dams, including one majority owned by French powerhouse GDF Suez. They’ve been disruptive, causing stoppages more than once. But the dams are still being built. Higher courts have always overruled the plaintiffs.
This latest measure essentially redistricts the Amazon to allow for hydroelectric dams to be built, or better yet, for impact studies to be conducted to see if hydroelectric dams are feasible. Within the law, the people who live in these areas will now be allowed to farm. Meaning, they can now legally knock down hundreds of acres of forest to make ends meet.
Under the measure, Para state would eliminate a total of 75,630 hectares in five conservation areas in order to make way for the reservoirs of two large proposed dams on the Tapajos river, mainly the Tapajos dam, which is the biggest on paper and would be Brazil’s third largest power station after Itaipu and Belo Monte. The protected areas that would have their boundaries reduced include the Amazonia National Park (17,800 hectares), the Itaituba 1 and Itaituba 2 National Forests (7,705 and 28,453 hectares, respectively), Crepori National Forest (856 acres), and the Tapajos Environmental Protection Area (19,916 hectares), according to Amazon Watch.
In the states of Rondônia and Amazonas 8,470 hectares would be excluded from the Mapinguari National Park so they could be flooded by the Jirau
and Santo Antônio dams on the Madeira River, currently under construction.  Additionally, 2,188 acres would be excluded from the Campos Amazônicos National Park to make way for the reservoir of the proposed Tabajara hydroelectric dam on the Machado River, a tributary of the Madeira River, a large Amazon River tributary.
According to a document submitted by the Rousseff Administration to the Brazilian Congress, the reduction of protected areas was proposed by the
federal environmental agency, ICMBio, the government group responsible for the management of protected areas in the Tapajós region. Some technicians within the group have said the reduction would be harmful to certain wildlife and rural societies.
But the top leadership at ICMBio looks at it another way.

When Destruction is Good

Late last year, the Ministry of Mines and Energy sent out a proposal to other departments, including the Ministry of the Environment, to see if a compromise could be met in the Amazon national parks.  The goal was always to reduce some areas to make hydroelectric dam impact studies possible, while moving conservation areas elsewhere.
To the opposition, this is more than a move that promotes jungle deforestation. It is also a move that helps mining companies, hungry for energy in the north, as much as it helps the government follow through on its plans to build dams on Amazon rivers.
For example, Para state is literally a gold mine for national and international mining firms. There’s gold in Para, not to mention a lot of iron ore. It’s energy intensive. Having cheap hydro-powered electricity is good for business.  In fact, Vale (VALE), Brazil’s largest iron ore producer, is a 9% stakeholder in the Belo Monte dam.
That doesn’t mean that Vale needs Belo Monte to operate or dig for minerals in the Amazon. It already producers iron ore from its Carajas mine in the state, the world’s largest iron ore mine.  Energy or no energy, Vale would still need environmental approval to prospect for minerals in the region, whether the electricity costs $0 per megawatt or $150. Electric power doesn’t override a mining companies need to get environmental permits to operate.  Nevertheless, an abundance of minerals coupled with government interest in expanding their power supply in those areas is ample enough reason to believe that industrial concerns are more important than environmental ones. To groups like Xingu River Vivo, or Amazon Watch, it is clear which way this debate over Amazon protection is tipping.
But Romulo Mello, head of ICMBio, will say that in environmental politics, one has to be flexible.
“We tried to give the electric power industry what they wanted, by giving us conservationists what we wanted, too,” he tells me. “And I think we succeeded at that with this measure. The people who live in protected areas are restricted to what they can farm, restricted to where they can build. We are putting them now in unrestricted areas and under the measure we are giving some areas — depending on where you are — the rights to farm timber. We think that will eliminate the illegal timber industry in Brazil, one hectare at a time.  We think we have a win-win,” he says.
The official numbers are complex. There’s seven protected areas that are getting reshaped under the measure.  Four national forests will see their total conservation area reduced. But on balance, of the 7,157,882 hectares currently protected, 146,629 hectares will be removed from their protected status so dams can be considered, at least on paper, and people living in the area can live on farming.
If the Amazon is one big jigsaw puzzle, then the borders are being redone.  The top is now the bottom and the center is now the left. When the puzzle is complete, it will still look like the Amazon, only it will surprisingly have more land protected than originally.  Under the measure, Brazil would have gone from 7.14 million hectares in conservation to 7.30 million hectares as some areas actually increase their size to make up for the reductions elsewhere.
“We don’t know how many power plants are going to get built in the Amazon,” Mello says. “That’s not our concern. Our concern is to protect the Amazon, and I think these numbers show that we have.”

publicado na Forbes 

Cf: também: Redefinição de limites em UC na Amazônia – ICMBio

Curiosamente, também hoje, o Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade (ICMBio) fez divulgar a seguinte nota técnica:
MP compensa áreas suprimidas de UCs na Amazônia 

Brasília (27/02/2012) – A Medida Provisória (MP) 558/2012, editada em janeiro pelo Executivo e em tramitação na Câmara dos Deputados, alterando limites de sete unidades de conservação (UCs) federais na Amazônia, para a construção de quatro hidrelétricas, não causa perda de área protegida na região, como vem sendo noticiado pela imprensa.
Ao contrário, as alterações levarão ao aumento da área total das unidades afetadas. Isso porque a desafetação de 146,6 mil hectares, prevista na MP, será compensada com a ampliação de 291 mil hectares. Assim, os atuais 7.157.882 hectares das sete unidades de conservação a serem alterados serão ampliados para 7.302.286 ha com a compensação prevista.

Leia, a seguir, nota técnica elaborada pelo Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade (ICMBio) e veja a tabela comparativa com os números:

1 – Sobre as informações relativas à MP 558/2012, que circulam na mídia, destacando especificamente a desafetação de áreas em sete unidades de conservação federais na Amazônia para abrigar canteiros e reservatórios de quatros barragens, duas no Rio Madeira e duas no Rio Tapajós, o Instituto Chico Mendes tem a esclarecer:
2 – Na verdade, a desafetação de 146,6 mil hectares, prevista na MP, será compensada com a ampliação de 291 mil hectares nas unidades mais afetadas. Assim, os atuais 7.157.882 hectares das sete unidades de conservação a serem alteradas, serão ampliados para 7.302.286 ha com a compensação prevista.
3 – Nas UCs de Proteção Integral, o Parque Nacional da Amazônia vai ganhar 106, 4 mil hetares. Dos 1.112.630 ha que possui atualmente, ele terá 47.080 há excluídos. No geral, o Parque perde apenas 4,23% de sua área total, mas ganha mais que o dobro do que foi desafetado.
4 – O Parque Nacional do Mapinguari, com 1.784.425 hectares terá uma supressão de 8.470 ha, uma perda de apenas 0,47% de sua área total.
5 – O Parque Nacional dos Campos Amazônicos, com 811.192 hectares, vai ganhar 184.615 hectares, passando para uma área total de 961,658 ha. A previsão é de desafetar apenas 34.149 ha, ou seja, 4,21% de sua área total.
6 – A Floresta Nacional Itaituba I, com 220.693 hectares, será desafetado em 7.705 há, ou 3,49% de sua área total, passando a contar com 212.988 ha.
7 – A Floresta Nacional Itaituba II, que tem atualmente 427.366 hectares, sofre uma supressão de 28.453 ha, ou 6,66% de sua área, passando a contar com 398.913 ha.
8 – A Floresta Nacional de Crepori apenas 856 hectares, ou 0,11% dos seus 741.244 ha, ficando então com 740.388 ha.
9 – A Área de Proteção Ambiental Tapajós, que tem 2.060.332 hectares, será suprimida em 19.916 ha, ou apenas 0,97% de sua área, ficando no total 2.040.416 hectares.
10 – Está em discussão, também, com o Governo do Amazonas, a criação de uma unidade de Proteção Integral no interflúvio Tapajós-Madeira, com aproximadamente 600 mil hectares.

fonte: Comunicação ICMBio


Unidades de Conservação Àrea Original Àrea Exclusiva Percentual de Desafetação Àrea Ampliada Àrea Final
Parque Nacional da Amazônia 1.112.630ha 47.080ha 4,23% 106.418ha 1.171.968ha
Parque Nacional do Mapinguari 1.784.425ha 8.470ha 0,47% - 1.775.955ha
Parque Nacional dos Campos Amazônicos 811.192ha 34.149ha 4,21% 184.615ha 961.658ha
UC DE PROTEÇÃO INTEGRAL- SUBTOTAL 3.708.247ha 89.699ha - 291.033ha 3.909.581ha
Floresta Nacional de Itaituba I 220.693ha 7.705ha 3,49% - 212.988ha
Floresta Nacional de Itaituba II 427.366ha 28.453ha 6,66% - 398.913ha
Floresta Nacional de Crepori 741.244ha 856ha 0,11% - 740.388ha
Área de Proteção Ambiental Tapajós 2.060.332ha 19.916ha 0,97% - 2.040.416ha
UC DE USO SUSTENTÁVEL- SUBTOTAL 3.449.635ha 56.930ha - - 3.392.705ha
TOTAL 7.157.882ha 146.629ha - 291.033ha 7.302.286ha


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