Man who destroyed huge forest wins demise of park

RIO DE JANEIRO — In a transfer that shocked environmentalists, the federal government of Brazil’s third-largest state has given up a authorized struggle over defending a state park in one of many Amazon’s most biodiverse areas. The upshot of that call is {that a} man chargeable for the deforestation of giant swaths of protected land wins with finality a lawsuit in opposition to the federal government. The park will stop to exist.

Antonio José Rossi Junqueira Vilela has been fined hundreds of thousands of {dollars} for deforestation in Brazil and for stealing 1000’s of hectares (acres) of the Amazon rainforest. But it was an organization linked to him that filed a lawsuit in opposition to the state of Mato Grosso, alleging it had improperly set the borders of the Cristalino II State Park.

The park stretches for 118,000 hectares (292,000 acres), bigger than New York Metropolis, and lies within the transition zone between the Amazon and drier Cerrado biomes. It’s house to the endemic white-fronted spider monkey (Ateles marginatus), a species endangered resulting from habitat loss.

In a 3-2 choice, Mato Grosso´s higher court docket dominated that the federal government’s creation of the park in 2001 was unlawful as a result of it befell with out public session.

The state authorities didn’t enchantment that call, leaving it to turn into ultimate. Now the park will probably be formally dissolved, the federal government press workplace confirmed to The Related Press.

The lack of the park is a measure of how dangerous issues are in the present day for the Amazon. Not solely are environmental legal guidelines going unenforced, now a court docket has invalidated a significant protected space. Scientists say not solely are ecosystems being misplaced, however huge deforestation is damaging the forest’s capacity to soak up carbon dioxide, a vital function it performs for the planet.


Earlier than he challenged the validity of Cristalino II park, Vilela’s presence was already well-known there. In 2005, he was fined $27 million for destroying 11,000 hectares (27,000 acres) of forest contained in the protected space, based on native press experiences on the time.

In 2016, the Vilela household made headlines in Brazil for being on the middle of a landmark enforcement operation in opposition to deforestation within the Amazon, often known as the Flying Rivers Operation, carried out by the Brazilian atmosphere company, Ibama, the federal police and the legal professional basic.

Vilela was additionally indicted for deforesting 30,000 hectares (74,000 acres) of public forests in Pará state, the equal of 5 Manhattans. Brazil’s legal professional basic known as Vilela the worst perpetrator of deforestation the Amazon had ever seen.

Authorized proceedings usually stretch for a few years in Brazil. If convicted within the Pará case, Vilela could possibly be sentenced to greater than 200 years in jail. He could possibly be fined greater than $60 million.

Legal professional Renato Maurílio Lopes, who has represented each Vilela and an affiliate firm, didn’t reply to messages left by The Related Press Wednesday and Thursday.

In response to researcher Mauricio Torres, a geographer from Pará Federal College, Vilela’s household follows the “basic script of land grabbing within the Amazon.”

The best way to steal land in Brazil is to deforest it after which declare it, he mentioned. ¨It’s via deforestation that the land-robbers concretely mark their possession of the land and are acknowledged as ‘house owners’ by different gangs,” he wrote to the AP.

In response to official knowledge, as of March 2022, Cristalino II had misplaced some 22,000 hectares (54,000 acres) to deforestation, regardless that it’s a totally protected space. The realm destroyed makes up virtually 20% of the park.

Mato Grosso, Brazil’s largest soybean-producing state, is run by governor Mauro Mendes, a pro-agribusiness politician and ally of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly mentioned Brazil has too many protected areas and vowed to not create extra of them.

Mendes’ state secretary of the atmosphere is Mauren Lazzaretti, a lawyer who made a profession defending loggers in opposition to legal costs associated to the atmosphere.

Throughout their tenure, Mato Grosso skilled one of many worst environmental disasters in Brazilian historical past. In 2020, wildfires burned 40% of the state’s Pantanal biome, the world’s most intensive tropical wetlands. Mendes signed a legislation Thursday that enables cattle elevating within the Pantanal´s personal preservation areas.

By way of electronic mail, Mato Grosso’s Surroundings Secretary mentioned it is going to proceed with the park’s dissolution and didn’t enchantment as a result of “it was deemed technically unviable.” The workplace famous that the adjoining Cristalino State Park I continues to be a protected space and covers 66,000 hectares (163,000 acres) of Amazon rainforest.

In a press release, the Mato Grosso Socio-environmental Observatory, a non-profit community, mentioned that the park’s extinction units a “harmful precedent” and the state authorities has proven itself incapable of defending preserved areas. It mentioned it’s assessing authorized choices to take care of Cristalino II.

“The general public mustn’t must pay the value for the omission and incompetence of the state of Mato Grosso,” Angela Kuczach, head of the Nationwide Community for Conservation Models, advised the AP.


Related Press local weather and environmental protection receives assist from a number of personal foundations. See extra about AP’s local weather initiative right here. The AP is solely chargeable for all content material.


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