Forest code: threatened waters

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Saturday, August 25, 2012


Forest code: threatened waters


“There is no scientific argument or of agricultural interest, even in relation to small and medium-sized properties, not to recover in full the riparian forests, allowing to play its vital role in water conditioning and protection of rivers”, write Antonio Nobre, agronomist and PhD in Earth Sciences, senior researcher and coordinator of INPA modeling group land in Earth System Sciences Centre of INPE and Ricardo r. Rao , Ph.d. in plant biology and professor and coordinator of the laboratory of ecology and forest restoration of Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz/USP, in an article published in the newspaper Value, 9/24/2012.

Here’s the article.

In the land of superlatives, the hugeness of our hydrological system also comes in the list of world’s largest: more than 9 million kilometers of rivers. Queued 220 laps on earth would, or would cover 22 times the distance to the moon. Stability, vigor and health of these rivers depend on the supply of cities, hydrological safety, electricity generation, agriculture and irrigation in the survival of precious biodiversity. The forested basins , as we still see properly in part of the Amazon, rich and healthy rivers maintains. In counterpoint, the degraded agricultural land and urban and industrial effluents has terrible consequences.

The indiscriminate destruction of ecosystems always results in high losses. With the degradation of land, water, biodiversity and climate arise multiple impacts on the health and economic consequences also, not always properly recognized or accounted for. Compliance with the destruction is the European colonial mentality and heritage of the industrial revolution, two historical Rams that left a trail of destruction throughout the world. But the awareness of the need for preservation of forests is not new nor is it an urban luxury. In 1537 the Governor of the Portuguese colony, Duarte Coelho, ruled: “and so have that all people use and have the so-called matos, …, taking do not make brushes, … and … larger trees … don’t cut it without my license … because such trees are for other things of greater substance …, and so resguardarão all Woods and scrub that are around the streams and sources.” In the mid-19th century, d. Pedro II, pressed by the degradation of the water that supplied the Rio de Janeiro, expropriated farms in the massif of Tijuca and sent to reforest the Atlantic forest. Today, as in the time of the discovery, crystalline flow the waters there.

In response to centuries of abuse, the first forestry code of 1934 came already late. The generalized disrespect to “guard the Woods and scrub around streams and sources” committed waters everywhere. And bad luck of the rivers, the growing dump sewage and all sorts of contaminants added to the Centennial land erosion denuded. The forest code evolved in the interest of the common good, peitando the entrenched mindset done, thus offering a minimum of protection for forests, and with them to the waters and rivers. Nevertheless, for many the law was the rule of paper, and the forests continued to fall. Built up extensive illegality in properties, passive situation placed in evidence by efficient surveillance and punishment siege of recent years. The reaction in the rural sector was curious: If obedience is inescapable, then UN-build-if the law. Supported by a well-oiled political machine in Congress and investing heavily in rhetoric, leaders of this sector has been trying to justify the loosening in law.

With recourse to science, let us look at just the claim that restore Gallery forests, the indispensable ecological lashes to water bodies protection, reduce the area available for food production. Studies done by the National Institute for space research (Inpe) and the Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz (Esalq), covering millions of acres in several parts of the country, they found that the surface that was intended to protect riparian forests in private homes, according to the stipulations of the revoked Forestry Code of 1965, occupied only 7 to 9% of the total area; to protect all sources added-if negligible 0.2%. Overcoming twice this protection, the surface area occupied by humid land was estimated at 17%. However, the moist land, with water table above, are unsuitable for most agricultural practices.

The irrigated rice, one of the few cultures able to grow on moist land, was used repeatedly as an example of consolidated agricultural area, in an attempt to justify the widespread reduction in protection areas around rivers. However, with approximately 1.3 million hectares, that culture occupies less than 1% of 144 millions of acres of wet lands and represents less than 0.5% of the country’s agricultural occupation. Already the creeks, streams and creeks of the high courses-those with less than 10 meters wide-represent 86% of the length of rivers and has no significant interference with the production of rice, grown on the floodplains of large rivers. On this vast capillary hydrological system if massive and sudden disaster adversely the consequences of loosening the law. The small irrigated rice culture occupation, occupation or even smaller crops ebb in Amazon, cannot justify the wholesale as protection reduction out done.

There is, therefore, scientific argument or agricultural interest, even in relation to small and medium-sized properties, not to recover in full the riparian forests, allowing to play its vital role in water conditioning and protection of rivers. Furthermore, there is significant economic recovery on the horizon for the so-called environmental services of natural forests. A study done for the State of Georgia, in the UNITED STATES, estimated at $ 37 billion annual value of environmental services provided by forests preserved in rural properties in that State, which is the size of the Acre. The economic logic is simple: drinking contaminated water reaches cost one hundred times more than those served, crystal clear, by natural forests.


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