The transition team announced measures to reduce deforestation at the beginning of 2023

The team forecasts a “strong and immediate” drop in the 1st quarter and accuses the government of informing fake data

Translated by: Ana Paula Rocha

Brasil de Fato | Lábrea (AM, Brasil) |
Lula’s environment transition team during a press conference on Wednesday, November 30 - Reprodução/TV PT

The transition team's technical coordinator, Aloizio Mercadante (Workers’ Party, known in Brazil as PT), stated that deforestation in Brazil will have a “strong and immediate” drop in the first quarter of 2023.

To reach this goal, the team intends to rebuild IBAMA staff, the Brazilian agency responsible for environmental inspections. Another measure is to guarantee a budget for actions to combat fires which, according to Mercadante, dropped from BRL 54 million (about 10,4 million dollars) to BRL 38 million (7,33 million dollars).

:: Amazon: Accumulated deforestation in 2022 is the second worst in the last 15 years, says Imazon ::

In addition to the abovementioned measures, other emergency measures were announced this Wednesday (November 30) in a press conference with members of the environmental technical group, which has former environment ministers and parliamentarians linked to the environmental agenda.  

“We have only one-fifth of the staff working in the field to combat deforestation,” said former environment minister Carlos Minc, who attended the press conference. According to Minc, it is also necessary to revoke decrees that prevent the application of environmental fines.

Still without a name to head the Ministry of the Environment, the newly elected Lula government plans to revoke norms that prevent the inspection of wood for export. “We talked with soybean producers to sign an agreement to sustainably [produce] soybean in Cerrado [a Brazilian biome in the country’s central region],” Mercadante added. 

New tools for environmental protection

For the first time, Brazil will adopt remote land embargoes without an inspector to go to the deforested area. According to the transition team, inspections could be made exclusively using satellite images, taking advantage of the know-how of NGOs that work in this sector.

“[Remote embargoes are a] quick, cheap, and effective measure. Banks can immediately cut off credit to illegally deforested areas,” Mercadante said.

Reforestation can generate jobs, says Marina Silva

Another concern is providing income alternatives for populations participating in illegal activities. The workforce used in illegal mining, for instance, can be absorbed into reforestation projects.

“Lula wants to dismantle illegal mining. On indigenous lands in Brazil, there are more than 35,000 illegal miners. We have 12 million hectares in our reforestation agenda with the capacity to generate 260,000 jobs,” said former minister Marina Silva.

Marina also announced the resumption of an updated version of the Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Deforestation in the Legal Amazon, also known as PPCDam (in Portuguese). It was responsible for 70% of the deforestation drop during the Lula government. Even so, the Bolsonaro government shelved PPCDam. 

Government withholds data, transition team says

Mercadante called the situation in some ministries a “scorched earth”, including that of the Ministry of the Environment. “The environment police were devastated in Brazil. The environmental agencies are muzzled. We became environmental and social pariahs,” he criticized.

Izabella Teixeira, another former environment minister, stated that “Quite often, all the data we receive [from the Bolsonaro government] are fake”. Mercadante mocked: “There is a ministry that specializes in running the cattle, but it has a lot of difficulty in providing us with information.”

Amazon Fund resumed and spending ceiling

Among the emergency measures, Mercadante took for granted the resumption of the Amazon Fund. This fund has over 3 billion dollars to be invested in preserving the biome. The Bolsonaro government had frozen the donations, which were made from Germany and Norway.

For 2023, the expectation is that there will be more donations to the Amazon Fund. The United Kingdom said they are interested in joining the list of funders. According to Mercadante, resources should not be restricted by spending ceiling limits. “[The Amazon Fund] is not a tax. It is a donation,” he explained.

“There will be a strong and immediate drop in deforestation in Brazil in the first quarter of the [coming] Lula government. Impunity is over. If you deforest, you will face the legal consequences,” said Mercadante.

Edited by: Thalita Pires e Flávia Chacon