Thursday, January 31, 2008

Deforestation And The Amazon Rainforest

The rising price of soy on the world market and new agrogenetic technologies are the newest contributors to deforestation in the Amazon basin of Brazil. Infrastructure, including massive engineering projects such as dams, water highways, biodeisel plants, roads and ports, threaten over eighteen different indigenous peoples in the vicinity. Indigenous peoples, rural workers, and others, have publicly protested this onslaught into their areas. In recognition that deforestation in the southeastern portion of the Amazon basin was the highest its been since 1988, large international conservation organizations, including CI, TNC, and WWF, worked with soy corporations two years ago to reach a "moratorium" on deforestating new lands for soy cultivation.

At least two points of action are possible:

1. The "soy moratorium" resulted in soy farmers purchasing already deforested areas from landholders in the area, causing a secondary wave of deforestation in which those not within the moratorium push the frontiers of deforestation forward.

2. The two-year "soy moratorium" is about to expire.

The CfHR could become a contributor to international conversations on both of these topics. This offers the opportunity to partner with and advocate with international environmental NGOs on the rights of indigenous peoples; this can be done with a great deal of diplomacy if we take a chair at the table. There is also opportunity here for working with local Brazilian organizations and possibly contributing to social impact assessments. CfHR might also be able to work with the Public Attorney's office in Belem. Among other things, they are involved in cases involving the human rights of indigenous peoples. And, finally, we should contact ABA (the Brazilian anthropology association) and ISA (Instituto Socioambiental) in Brazil to consider possible synergies.