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Law and Policy in Brazil: Protecting the Rainforest and Enhancing Communities
Unformatted Document Text:  Law and Policy in Brazil: Protecting the Rainforest & Enhancing Communities Introduction Overview and Significance of Topic. The value of the Brazilian Amazon is astounding and immeasurable. It is the “the largest single reserve of biological organisms in the world.” Scientists estimate that there are between five to thirty million different plants and something in between 800,000 and five million species 1 in Brazil’s rainforest. Many animal and tree species may even yet to be discovered. The scientific community sees the rainforest as a great asset. The cure for incurable diseases may be in the forest’s vast biodiversity. Furthermore, the rainforest acts as a carbon sink and cleanses the world’s atmosphere from carbon dioxide and decelerates the unwanted climate change. The rainforest, in spite of its importance, is being deforested at alarming rates of approximately 12,000 square miles a year. Highly profitable non-environmental friendly economic practices such as cattle ranching, crop growing, 2 mining, lumbering and government developing programs are responsible for the deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon. For instance, government construction of hydroelectric dams and highways require clearing of forest land which in turn encourage urbanization of the region that leads to direct or indirect deforestation of Brazil’s rainforest. 3 Global warming and the loss of the Amazon’s rich biodiversity are often cited in the news as consequences of deforestation. 4 What we seldom 5 hear in the literature is the serious violation of human rights occurring in the Brazilian Amazon region in the name of development and profit. Communities of indigenous peoples and traditional peoples are being displaced along with their environmentally friendly way of life. Although evidence exists of a direct relationship between high deforestation rates and a healthier Brazilian economy, we must ask questions regarding who is benefiting. It would be misleading to think that Brazil as a whole is benefiting from this economic prosperity. This economic prosperity only reaches a small group of wealthy Brazilians and the foreign businessmen who are involved in the market. Thus, it is highly relevant to understand the political power of groups involved in this dilemma. In spite of continuing deforestation, there are groups within and outside Brazil fighting against the destruction of the forest whether they are directly or indirectly affected by it. Brazilian and foreign government institutions are devoted to advancing environmental justice and human rights in Brazil. For example, the rule of law in Brazil advocates for the protection of the Brazilian environment and guarantees basic human rights to all people. The same applies for the international rule of law. Government agencies in Brazil such as the FUNAI (Fundação Nacional do Índio, or National Foundation of the Indian) and the IBAMA (Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis, or Brazilian Institute of the Environment and of the Renewable Natural Resources) 3

Authors: da Fonseca, Joao. and Vogel, Karen.
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Law and Policy in Brazil: Protecting the Rainforest & Enhancing
Communities
Introduction
Overview and Significance of Topic.
The value of the Brazilian Amazon is astounding and immeasurable. It is
the “the largest single reserve of biological organisms in the world.” Scientists
estimate that there are between five to thirty million different plants and
something in between 800,000 and five million species
in Brazil’s rainforest.
Many animal and tree species may even yet to be discovered. The scientific
community sees the rainforest as a great asset. The cure for incurable diseases
may be in the forest’s vast biodiversity. Furthermore, the rainforest acts as a
carbon sink and cleanses the world’s atmosphere from carbon dioxide and
decelerates the unwanted climate change.
The rainforest, in spite of its importance, is being deforested at alarming
rates of approximately 12,000 square miles a year. Highly profitable non-
environmental friendly economic practices such as cattle ranching, crop growing,
mining, lumbering and government developing programs are responsible for the
deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon. For instance, government construction of
hydroelectric dams and highways require clearing of forest land which in turn
encourage urbanization of the region that leads to direct or indirect deforestation
of Brazil’s rainforest.
Global warming and the loss of the Amazon’s rich biodiversity are often
cited in the news as consequences of deforestation.
What we seldom
hear in the
literature is the serious violation of human rights occurring in the Brazilian
Amazon region in the name of development and profit. Communities of
indigenous peoples and traditional peoples are being displaced along with their
environmentally friendly way of life.
Although evidence exists of a direct relationship between high
deforestation rates and a healthier Brazilian economy, we must ask questions
regarding who is benefiting. It would be misleading to think that Brazil as a whole
is benefiting from this economic prosperity. This economic prosperity only
reaches a small group of wealthy Brazilians and the foreign businessmen who are
involved in the market. Thus, it is highly relevant to understand the political
power of groups involved in this dilemma.
In spite of continuing deforestation, there are groups within and outside
Brazil fighting against the destruction of the forest whether they are directly or
indirectly affected by it. Brazilian and foreign government institutions are devoted
to advancing environmental justice and human rights in Brazil. For example, the
rule of law in Brazil advocates for the protection of the Brazilian environment and
guarantees basic human rights to all people. The same applies for the international
rule of law. Government agencies in Brazil such as the FUNAI (Fundação
Nacional do Índio,
or National Foundation of the Indian) and the IBAMA
(Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis, or
Brazilian Institute of the Environment and of the Renewable Natural Resources)
3


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