The man who destroyed a vast forest wins the demise of the park

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — In a transfer that has shocked environmentalists, the federal government of Brazil’s third-largest state has given up a authorized battle to guard a state park in one of many Amazon’s most biodiverse areas. The results of that call is {that a} man liable for the deforestation of enormous swathes of protected land wins a profitable lawsuit in opposition to the federal government. The park will stop to exist.

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

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

In a 3-2 resolution, Mato Grosso’s superior court docket dominated that the federal government’s 2001 creation of the park was unlawful as a result of it was carried out with out public session.

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

The lack of the park is a measure of how unhealthy issues are at this time for the Amazon. Not solely are environmental legal guidelines not being enforced, however now a court docket has invalidated an essential protected space. Scientists say not solely are ecosystems being misplaced, however large deforestation is damaging the forest’s skill to soak up carbon dioxide, a vital position it performs for the planet.


Earlier than he challenged the validity of the Cristalino II park, Vilela’s presence there was already recognized. In 2005, he was fined $27 million for destroying 11,000 hectares (27,000 acres) of forest inside the protected space, based on native media studies on the time.

In 2016, the Vilela household made headlines in Brazil for being on the heart of a historic management operation in opposition to deforestation within the Amazon, referred to as Operation Flying Rivers, carried out by the Brazilian environmental company Ibama, the federal police and the prosecutor’s workplace. normal. .

Vilela was additionally accused of deforesting 30,000 hectares (74,000 acres) of public forests in Pará state, the equal of 5 Manhattans. Brazil’s legal professional normal referred to as Vilela the worst perpetrator of deforestation the Amazon has ever seen.

Authorized proceedings usually drag on 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 affiliated firm, didn’t reply to messages left by The Related Press on Wednesday and Thursday.

In line with the researcher Mauricio Torresgeographer from the Federal College of Pará, the Vilela household follows the “traditional script of land grabbing within the Amazon”.

The way in which to steal land in Brazil is to deforest it after which reclaim it, he stated. “It’s by means of deforestation that the thieves concretely mark their possession of the land and are acknowledged as ‘homeowners’ by different gangs,” he wrote to the AP.

In line with official information, as of March 2022, Cristalino II had misplaced some 22,000 hectares (54,000 acres) to deforestation, although it’s a absolutely protected space. The destroyed space represents virtually 20% of the park.

Mato Grosso, Brazil’s largest soy-producing state, is led by Governor Mauro Mendes, a pro-agribusiness politician and ally of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly stated Brazil has too many protected areas and promised don’t create extra. .

Mendes’ state secretary for the atmosphere is Mauren Lazzaretti, a lawyer who made a profession defending loggers in opposition to environmental prison costs.

Throughout his mandate, Mato Grosso skilled one of many worst environmental disasters within the historical past of Brazil. In 2020, wildfires burned 40% of the state’s Pantanal biome, the biggest tropical wetlands on this planet. Mendes signed a legislation on Thursday that enables cattle ranching within the personal preservation areas of the Pantanal.

By electronic mail, the Mato Grosso Secretary of the Atmosphere stated that he’ll proceed with the dissolution of the park and didn’t enchantment as a result of “it was thought-about technically unfeasible.” The workplace famous that the adjoining Cristalino I State Park stays a protected space and covers 66,000 hectares (163,000 acres) of Amazon rainforest.

In an announcement, the Mato Grosso Socio-Environmental Observatory, a nonprofit community, stated the extinction of the park units a “harmful precedent” and the state authorities is unable to guard the preserved areas. He stated he’s evaluating authorized choices to maintain Cristalino II.

“The general public mustn’t must pay the worth of the omission and incompetence of the state of Mato Grosso,” Angela Kuczach, director of the Nationwide Community of Conservation Items, instructed the AP.


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