Campaigners welcome Amazon mining U-turn

Amazon conservation groups have begun celebrations after the Brazilian government announced that it will reverse its plans to open up large areas of the rainforest to mining companies.

President Michel Temer caused uproar in August when he first announced the plans to remove the reserve status of the Renca region, an area that stretches around 17,800 square miles, which is reportedly home to some of the richest biodiversity on the planet.

However, the president has now revealed he will reverse the plans after a judge stated that the move would allow one of the largest attacks on the rainforest “in 50 years” and blocked the scheme, a decision that was welcomed by environmental activists and climate campaigners.

In defence of the plans, the Brazilian government told the judge and other critics that only 30 per cent of the Renca reserve would have been opened up to the mining industry, preventing the plans from impacting on the park’s conservation effort and the lives of the indigenous populations.

The Ministry of Mines and Energy also argued that the opening of the area could enable the Brazilian government to better fight the rise of illegal mining operations in the Amazon while also attracting investment to the area.

Conversely, environmental and climate critics argued that the legalisation of mining in the area would lead to an increase in road building and deforestation, increasing pressure on the local wildlife and tribes and ultimately spelling the end for the reserve.

Despite the government’s argument, the judge ruled that the plans would be suspected, ruling that the president had exceeded his authority in signing away part of the forest.

“Not even the military dictatorship dared so much,” Sen. Randolfe Rodrigues said. “I never imagined the government had such nerve.”

This view was mirrored by Maurício Voivodic, the head of WWF Brasil, who stated that the authorities will hopefully begin thinking more carefully about their growth plans.

“The Brazilian government has finally realised it’s not acceptable to make decisions that affect the Amazon and its people without a broad and transparent public debate,” he said.

James Barrett, spokesman for forestry company GWD Brazil, said “Strong investment in our forests depends on open and sustainable policies.”

The threat is yet to cease, however, with the mining industry leaving the path clear for the possibility of fresh debate on the matter in the future, suggesting that the boundaries in place around the forest should be removed in order to allow its growth and attract investment.


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