From: WWF
Published July 4, 2008 10:09 AM

Vague land ownership a factor in Amazon deforestation

Curitiba, Brazil — A “fragile”Ł land tenure system and “a scarce presence”Ł by the State were identified as key factors in rising Amazon deforestation last week.

The diagnosis was delivered to the 3rd International Congress on Bioenergy last week by WWF-Brazil forest engineer Ana Euler, who said there was a need to re-discuss the Brazilian development model.

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“In many areas of the Amazon we come across a situation in which there are various 'landowners' for the same piece of land and proof of land ownership is extremely difficult,”Ł Euler said. “In such a scenario, the populations that are more vulnerable end up being penalized."

“Indigenous peoples, extractivists and small peasants generally lose the dispute to agribusiness and other groups that deploy greater political and economic strength.”Ł

The findings draw on studies of the states of Para and Rond├┤nia where a high incidence of land conflict and associated violence were linked to forest degradation and destruction.

Using satellite images of the state of Rond├┤nia - one of the Amazon region's most deforested states, Ana Euler showed that protected areas are proving effective instruments for containing deforestation and conflicts resulting from land use.

"It can be noted that indigenous lands, extractive reserves, national and state forests, and other protected areas work as barriers against forest degradation," she said.

Also raised by Euler was the great influence of infrastructure projects, as hydroelectric power plants, highways, pipelines and waterways in increasing conflicts over land use and occupation in the Amazon region.

"The speculation generated by the announcement of great infrastructure construction work, as well as the lack of transparence in the project-licensing processes, has serious impacts to local biodiversity and to surrounding communities even before construction is started," she said.

WWF-Brazil is fostering the creation and implementation of protected areas and the promotion of sustainable development in the Amazon. Through providing technical and financial support to the Amazon Region Protected Areas Program (ARPA), WWF-Brazil contributed to the creation of 23 million hectares of additional protected areas between 2003 and 2008.

WWF-Brazil and its partner organizations also provide training, technical and marketing support to forest communities for sustainable income generating extraction and production activities Such arrangements strengthen civil society, support community involvement in policy making and can in part make up for a meagre presence of other government resources and services.

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