How to protect when the rule is to destroy?

The fifth day of SPSAS begins with Philip Fearnside’s analysis of the effects of climate change in the Amazon, such as increased temperature, decreased rainfall, and increased tree mortality. According to the researcher, the greatest impact is given by the increase in the duration of the dry season, which affects the resilience of the forest: it takes longer and longer for the forest to recover from these dry periods that are increasingly longer and more intense.

The great concern is that the forest reaches the tipping point. According to the researcher “this point is not defined, some researchers say 40% of the forest, others say 20-25%. The central issue is that going beyond this point affects not only the Amazon itself but the entire global climate.

For Fearnside, the big immediate threats to the Amazon are the reopening of roads (such as the reconstruction of the BR 319 between Manaus and Porto Velho) and the implementation of hydroelectric dams (there are plans to build three dams in the region in the next few years). “We have to understand that next year we will have a congress even more ruralist than the current one, we need to follow these plans closely in order not to allow areas of traditional and protected populations to be affected”, concludes the researcher.

The second lecture was by Thiago Motta Cardoso, from UFAM, who brought a historical overview of the conservation policies for protected areas and indigenous territories in Brazil, drawing attention to the period between 1974 and 1985, with a boom in the creation of protected areas. “This large number of units created can be understood as part of the military geopolitical process of occupying the Amazon, the protected areas are part of this planning,” explains the researcher, “which is why it is important to understand history: if today these areas are seen as antagonistic to the current development project, at the time they were created they were part of the current project.

Cardoso also calls attention to the emergence of the Extractive Reserves in the 1980s and the creation of the Forest Peoples Alliance. For the researcher, the advance of national and international environmentalism was important for the advancement of the creation of protected areas, especially the sustainable use units and indigenous reserves. It is only after the 1988 Constitution that the indigenous people leave the guardianship of the state and become subjects of law, which strengthens the indigenous struggle.The big question left by Cardoso for the participants of the SPSAS Amazon was: “How to protect when the rule is to destroy?” , drawing attention to the constructions and deconstructions of environmental and indigenous policies in the country.

The relationship between biodiversity and infectious diseases was the theme of researcher Marcus Lacerda, from the Carlos Borborema Clinical Research Institute. The areas of ports and estuaries and agriculture based on monoculture are two of the great vectors for the dissemination of diseases in the region. Malaria, for example, increases in areas with development projects that do not refer to the site. For the researcher, two aspects are essential to think about the dynamics of infectious diseases in the Amazon: the plurality of the populations that inhabit it and the region’s economic cycles.

And, ending the day, Marlúcia Bonifácio Martins presented the Goeldi Museum and its importance for research in the Amazon region, calling attention to the importance of science communication and scientific collections in the institution.

About the São Paulo School of Advanced Science Sustainable and Inclusive AMAZONIA

The São Paulo School of Advanced Science Sustainable and Inclusive AMAZONIA was born focused on the Amazon from a transdisciplinary point of view. During two weeks, questions about the Amazon territory, its inhabitants, and the protagonists of biodiversity and climate change mitigation will be addressed. “We set up the school to provide a vision of the different dimensions of the Amazon, but we know that there are still gaps, such as food security and health”, explains Carlos Joly, the school’s coordinator.

The participants will organize themselves into groups and develop themes that have affinity with each other. “The proposal is to co-construct themes that will be treated at the school and that are of interest to the participants,” explains Joly. At the end, the written material will be transformed into an e-book.