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Brunei
Saturday, August 20, 2022
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Brunei
Saturday, August 20, 2022
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    Brazil moves towards paving road key to deforestation

    IO DE JANEIRO (AP) – In a decision that critics have labelled as dangerous, Brazil’s government granted a preliminary environmental permit for paving a dirt highway that cuts through one of the Amazon rainforest’s most preserved areas.

    The road known as BR-319, runs about 900 kilometres and is the only highway connecting Manaus, home to 2.2 million people, with the nation’s larger urban centres further south. Half the length of BR-319 is still unpaved, and that stretch usually becomes impassable during the rainy season, which can last up to three months. This difficulty keeps forest clear cutters away.

    Researchers and environmentalists argue that the paving will lead to mass clearing of pristine rainforest, given that most Amazon deforestation occurs alongside roads where access is easier and land value is higher.

    In fact that is already happening before the paving even starts.

    “Law enforcement actions are insufficient to curb the illegal occupation, invasions, deforestation, land speculation and pressures that have been increasing exponentially in recent years,” executive secretary Fernanda Meirelles of BR-319 Observatory, a watchdog group, told The Associated Press.

    The preliminary licence is a crucial part of the project’s ultimate approval, because it means it has passed both economic and environmental screens. The asphalt work can’t begin yet though. Brazil’s environmental agency, Ibama, also laid down several conditions, including creation of a conservation area as a buffer for an Indigenous group, the monitoring of water quality nearby and an archaeology programme.

    A man walks down an unpaved stretch of highway BR-319 in the Brazilian Amazon between the cities of Manaus and Porto Velho. PHOTO: AP
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