Judge suspends Brazil government's decision to open up a national reserve for mining
The request stemmed from a Public Civil Action that argues that the decree signed by President Temer puts protected areas located in the Renca area - a territory of 47,000 square kilometers between Pará and Amapá - at risk and leaves sections of the region - about 30 per cent of the total area - open to mining activity.
On Wednesday, the Attorney General's Office (AGU) said it will appeal the decision.
With potential for extraction of gold, iron, manganese and tantalum, Renca partially overlaps with nine federal and state protected areas: Tumucumaque Mountains National Park, Paru and Amapá State Forests, Maicuru Biological Reserve, Estação The Jari Ecological Reserve, the Rio Cajari Extractive Reserve, the Iratapuru River Sustainable Development Reserve and the Waiãpi Indigenous Lands and Rio Paru d`Este.
That is the potential conflict. In most of these areas, mining is prohibited - although there are gaps in legislation that may set precedents for mineral extraction in sustainable use protected areas.
But even if it happens outside the confines of conservation units, mining activity, by law, must be carried out in a way that respects the environment and the rights of Indigenous Peoples and traditional communities living in the region.
This potential conflict was announced by WWF-Brazil in May of this year through a document that anticipated the stimulus package for the mineral sector prepared by the Ministry of Mines and Energy. In July, a new WWF report on the Renca situation outlined the most sensitive areas and possible risks of opening up large-scale business activities in the region.
And yet, the opening took place without any previous debate with society. "The government did not call on society to discuss a form of sustainable intervention in the Renca area. It simply met the industry's demands, bypassing environmental and social interests," says Jaime Gesisky, a specialist in Public Policy at WWF-Brazil.
According to news published on the website of the Observatory of Climate (OC), the president's decision bypassed even an opinion of the Ministry of the Environment that requested the maintenance of the mineral reserve due to the risk of increased deforestation in the region. The opinion points to the risk of increased deforestation in the region.
According to the MMA, of the 46,501 square kilometers of Renca, 45,767 square kilometers are covered by forest and 206 square kilometers are rivers. The deforested area is 528 square kilometers, or 1.1 per cent of the total.
In the opinion, MMA technicians drew attention to recent changes in Brazilian legislation which favour mining in protected areas. The new Mining Code, now converted into law, does not provide for the prior authorization of environmental agencies for mining concessions.
In addition, the new Forest Code opens the possibility that mining can take place in areas of permanent preservation, which is enough for the Executive to declare the activity to be of "public interest", notes the OC news.
And this pressure, in the understanding of MMA, can lead to more deforestation in the region, as well as induce the migration of people to the area and impact the traditional communities that live there, generating violence and degradation.
In a lawsuit filed earlier this week, the Federal Public Prosecutor's Office in Amapá (MPF / AP) also asked the Federal Court for an emergency injunction to suspend the effects of the decree that extinguished Renca. According to the suit, in addition to contradicting the Federal Constitution, the government measure puts at risk the preservation of the environment and violates the fundamental rights of the Amazonians, especially the right to prior consultation.
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