- Highway Poses a New Threat to Brazilian
The Brazilian rainforest is, without question, one of
mankind's major environmental assets. So much so that
such relevant data as biodiversity and rates of
destruction are at the fingertips of every concerned
citizen. Nevertheless, a construction project
co-sponsored by BID (Interamerican Development Bank) is
threatening an appreciable portion of the rainforest in
southern Brazil. Ironically, BID is in the forefront of
environmentally concerned institutions.
BR-116 is already one of Brazil's major highways. It will
become even more important as a vital link of the
MERCOSUR free-trade area, joining the principal cities of
the member countries. For this reason duplication of the
highway is being planned between the Brazilian cities of
Sao Paulo and Florianopolis. In order to meet the
sponsoring agencies' schedules, design work is proceeding
at breakneck speed. In one particular case, such haste
may well be the reason for an impending ecological
Most of the duplication is being designed as a new road
parallel and adjacent to the existing highway. This is
very sensible, as it minimizes destruction of the local
vegetation, and barely affects the wildlife habitats.
There is a swath of earth on either side of the existing
highway, where decades of heavy traffic and other human
activities have removed most vestiges of wildlife and
native vegetation, and this is the obvious location for
new construction activities.
The section of highway located in Serra do Cafezal,
crosses the Atlantic rainforest at a very vulnerable
point. The region is an officially designated
Environmental Protection Area and includes a private
wildlife reserve, Fazenda Iterei. This sector is
designated as "Lote 2" (km 339,2 ao km 366,8),
on highway department plans, and the problem occurs
specifically at "trecho 6".
It is at this point that the highway designers have
resolved to have separate lanes for the duplication. For
a distance of about 7 km., the new lanes will be, between
300 and 600 meters away from the present highway. There
are few human activities as destructive as a highway
construction site. Some of the largest vehicles known to
mankind move vast amounts of earth, produce artificial
dust storms, and destroy all forms of native plant and
animal life which are unfortunate enough to be in their
path. The disaster will be compounded by destruction of
existing pure water resources, consisting of a network of
sparkling mountain streams.
The proposed route will bisect Fazenda Iterei its
sustainable nodel for the mountains and destroy an
ecological continuum. Trees, hundreds of years old, and
other plants will be uprooted and wildlife communities
will be separated by this man-made barrier and cease to
exist. Since hunting is not permitted, this region has
become a sanctuary for countless groups of wild animals.
Yet another assault against biodiversity is in the
making. In addition to massive environmental damage, the
proposed highway duplication is an unsightly intrusion in
the midst of an exquisite rainforest.
It must be made clear that there is no opposition to the
construction of the highway. It is a very important
project, linked to the economic well-being of millions of
Latin Americans. The rainforest must not be destroyed,
however. The authorities must change the design of the
proposed duplication, in order to avoid destruction of a
priceless ecosystem. A well-designed project will cause
no harm to the environment, on the contrary, the unique
nature of this beautiful landscape will be
Fortunately, there is still time to act. The main
obstacle to overcome is bureaucratic inertia. There are
many examples, the world over, of environmentally
insensitive building projects which have been reversed,
due to pressure exerted by environmentalists and the
general public. The rainforest in general, and Serra do
Cafezal and Fazenda Iterei in particular, depend on your
Send an Email message, fax or post a letter to
Brazil Environmental Minister Krause.
Just follow these easy steps and tell him what you
1.Enter your personal information. Your email
address is required.
2.Enter a subject for your message. We have
provided a default, but feel free to change it.
3.Write your letter. We have provided a sample
letter which you can send as it is. Please sign your
name, and if you feel so inspired you can edit the
4.Please, inform your friends about this new threat to
Brazilian Rainforest and tell them how to help.
FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY. NOT TO BE REPRODUCED WITHOUT PERMISSION
FROM THE SOURCE