- Mongabay has published a new edition of the book, “A Perfect Storm in the Amazon,” in short parts and in three languages: Spanish, English and Portuguese.
- Author Timothy J. Killeen is an academic and expert who, since the 1980s, has studied the rainforests of Brazil and Bolivia, where he has lived for more than 35 years.
- Documenting the efforts of nine countries in the Amazon to prevent deforestation, this edition provides an overview of topics most relevant to the conservation of biodiversity in the region, ecosystem services and Indigenous cultures, as well as a description of competing conventional and sustainable development models. for space within the regional economy.
- This is part of chapter 1 of “A Perfect Storm in the Amazon,” see the bottom of this page for links to all the excerpts.
Pan Amazon’s current development path is uncertain. Continued investment in protected areas and Indigenous territories has created a solid foundation for biodiversity conservation in the region. The dramatic reduction in deforestation in Brazil may have avoided an ecological disaster and identified key public policies that have the potential to bend the arc of Amazonian development. However, the momentum of fifty years of chaotic economic growth, disregard for the law and the economic power of vested interests continue to impede efforts to stop the environmental degradation that threatens the long-term integrity of Pan Amazon.
Looking ahead, many interrelated events will determine the future of the region: some will support the development of a sustainable economy, while others will strengthen the practices associated with conventional business models. Many are environmentally neutral and have impacts that can be mitigated by a well-managed and diversified regional economy. They can be organized into the following four categories, based on their likelihood of occurrence and their potential to contribute to a sustainable future.
Things that actually happen
Road networks will continue to expand; improve existing roads; it’s just a matter of time. Agricultural enterprises with export markets abroad will expand; this will move some producers to the forest frontier (ranches) and encourage others to expand existing production models (smalls). Extractive industries dominate the economies of jurisdictions rich in mineral resources; their environmental performance will improve, but they will still create long-term environmental liabilities.
Sustainable production technologies, such as aquaculture, will provide new economic opportunities, while selected forest products, such as açaí, will become new export products. Initiatives to decentralize state administrative functions will empower local elites who want to expand traditional production models and grassroots activists who promote environmental conservation and social justice. Urbanization will continue to expand opportunities and improve the living conditions of the region’s residents.
Things that can happen
The management of protected areas should improve as their operations are included in state budgets; however, political opposition may cause some to be demoted or degazetted from the system. Indigenous communities will face challenges in protecting their land; others may be tempted to trade access to natural resources in exchange for money.
Widespread non-compliance with land use zoning regulations (eg, Forest Code) and the loss of forest remnants may reduce the convective system that maintains the high rainfall regime. Consumer demand for commodities without deforestation should lead to increased production in agricultural landscapes, while community-based business models can improve the management of wild fisheries and reduce the level of -informality (illegality) in the timber industry.
Nature and culture tourism can improve the livelihoods of traditional forest communities but will require significant investment in infrastructure, human capacity and marketing. Democratic reform and regulatory oversight can improve the quality and objectivity of environmental and social review but are unlikely to eliminate ill-advised investments in infrastructure or the extractive sector. Financial resources from PES schemes can provide critical support for operating budgets for protected areas and Indigenous lands but do not provide sufficient investment capital to change unsustainable patterns of business.
Things that should never happen
No new main highways shall be made through any wilderness area; there are no justifications based on economic criteria within the transport sector. Large hydropower facilities on major rivers should be eliminated from consideration due to irreversible impacts on sediment flows and fish migration; they are rarely economically viable using standard financial criteria. Global warming should not exceed 2° Celsius due to effects on plant physiology, forest carbon dynamics and continental-scale changes in rainfall regimes.
Things that really need to happen
The most harmful and destructive activities in the Pan Amazon are all clearly illegal, and governments must act to control them. Others are clearly products of a cultural tolerance of corruption: illegal logging. Others are the product of inequality and the profitable nature of illicit activity: artisanal gold mining and coca cultivation. Eliminating the former will require institutional reform and sustained law enforcement action; the latter will require a more integrated approach due to the number of people involved and their willingness to confront the state of violence.
“A Perfect Storm in the Amazon” is a book by Timothy Killeen and contains the views and analysis of the author. The second edition was published by The White Horse in 2021, under the terms of the Creative Commons license (CC BY 4.0 license).
Read other excerpts from chapter 1 here: