Greenpeace, 300 traditional Amazon rainforest communities launch floating general assembly on Jaraucu River demanding government action to end illegal farming, logging operations in protected Verde Para Sempre Extractive Reserve

Allison Oesterle

Allison Oesterle

Apr 4, 2012 – Greenpeace

PORTO DO MOZ, Brazil , April 4, 2012 (press release) – Greenpeace today joined 300 traditional Amazon rainforest communities in a floating general assembly on the Jaraucu River to demand an end to forest destruction in the Verde Para Sempre Extractive Reserve (1). Boats gathered at the Jaraucu River, which is the main channel for the transport of illegal timber out of the reserve, to testify about the lack of governance in the region.

"The Verde Para Sempre Reserve was created by the Brazilian Government eight years ago but there are still farmers and loggers operating inside the protected area," said Paulo Adario, Greenpeace Brazil Amazon Campaign Director. "We are here to demand that the Federal Government fulfill their commitment to protect the Verde Para Sempre Reserve, support the communities' fight to protect their land, and remove those illegally logging and farming inside of the reserve."

Yesterday, ahead of the general assembly, activists from the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior joined local community leaders from the Resex Verde para Sempre Reserve to declare an end to the sale of an illegal farm(2) inside the protected area. The "Not for Sale" sign installed on the land wrongfully up for auction reads "Verde Para Sempre" or "Forever Green".

In 2004, supported by local communities, Greenpeace won a four year long campaign to create the Verde Para Sempre (Forever Green) Extractive Reserve (3), which was created to help stop forest destruction and promote the sustainable use of natural resources in the region by local communities. It is one of the largest protected areas in Brazil measuring 1.3 million hectares.

The local communities suffer without full access to the reserve's natural resources. None of the necessary "concession of use" permits have been granted in the community and the mandatory reserve land management plan still hasn't been completed.

The Porto de Moz region is known for land grabbing and illegalities involving logging companies. Farmers and loggers easily invade protected forest areas, open illegal roads and threaten the local communities, who are dependant on the forests for their survival. Industrial exploitation on a large scale started in 1990 with the depletion of wood stocks from traditional production centres in the East of Para after years of intensive and predatory logging. Today, many forest areas have been exhaustively exploited and, in many cases, converted into pastures. The Brazilian Amazon has already lost 18% of its forest cover.

The local and federal government's reaction to the widespread illegality destroying the Amazon is slow and inadequate. Greenpeace is calling for a Zero Deforestation Law in Brazil.

Notes to the Editor
1. Extractive Reserves are protected areas designated for the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources by the people who traditionally live in the area. This model was developed in the ´80s by forest dwellers under the leadership of Chico Mendes and the National Council of Rubber Tappers (CNS) and adopted by the Brazilian Federal Government in 1990. These reserves guarantee local families the collective right to land and its natural resources, allowing them to keep on living from their traditional economic activities, while preserving the environment. In 1990, the Federal Government issued the Extractive Reserves General Decree (Decree number 98.897/90) establishing the legal basis for the creation of such unites. In March 1990, the Brazilian Government created the "Extractive Reserve Chico Mendes", with 970,570 ha in the state of Acre. In 2004, the Brazilian Government created the Verde Para Sempre Reserve by Presidential Decree.

2. A 7,200 hectare logging farm located inside the reserve is up for auction by a public bank (Caixa Economica Federal) to collect a debt owed from years ago by the logging company, "Medida Certa Madeiras".

3. Other organisations include: Rural Workers Union of Porto de Moz and MDTX (Movement for the Trans-Amazon Highway and Xingu Development), which is represented by 113 entities of the Baixo Xingu and Trans-Amazon Highway region. The Catholic and Methodist churches also support the movement.

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