Vague land ownership a factor in Amazon deforestation
Curitiba, Brazil — A “fragile” land tenure system and “a scarce
presence” 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.
“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,” 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.”
The findings draw on studies of the states of Para and RondÃ´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 RondÃ´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,"
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
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.