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Green Highway Consortium Annual Report, 2004

Green Highway Consortium Annual Report, 2004
by Portal Web Editor last modified Jun 10, 2014 10:09 PM

During this first year of funding, the Green Highways Consortium consolidated and strengthened historical collaborations among member institutions, initiated new collaborations, and faced controversial issues (agribusiness expansion in Amazon , for example). The general strategy adopted by Consortium includes (1) the strengthening of different society groups (social movements; farmers, state and federal government) by providing qualified and scientific information on land use dynamic in Amazon, as a way, (2) helping the local society to find a new approach for “frontier governance” being able to control the social and environmental negative impacts coming from the currently land use activities. Also, the Consortium has to work (3) to promote the expansion of Annual Technical Report (2004): Green Highways Consortium 4 market incentives for good land practices and compliance with ambitious environmental legislation. All the three action lines above are inserted in a national and local political context, which is propitious to debate due to the phenomenal advance made by local society in terms of proposition of regional planning for economic corridors represented by the highways that will be paved (BR-163, for example). In this sense, the most important accomplishment was the remarkable progress made in consolidating a regional planning process for the BR-163 highway—a process that has now been recognized by the Brazilian Government. The BR-163 process provides a participatory, scientifically-grounded framework for advancing large-scale conservation and sustainable development along a 1,700 km corridor rife with land conflicts, land speculation, and the degradation of natural resources. A working group, recognized by the government, was organized by institutions which represent the civil society for setting up a monitoring to check the proposals aiming the territory arrangement through the BR-163 Highway. This participatory monitoring has been reached through activities such as training for smallholders (in fire and fauna management, viability of productive activities, etc), or even for timber companies’ staff as an alternative to reduce costs. All these processes included the production of materials, workshops and events to promote the environmental consciousness among the society groups involved in it. At the same time, the projects developed during the period reported here are improving the communities’ level of organization and their life quality, since it contributes to different economical alternatives with environmental reduced impact. Communities are getting able to sell and certificate their products, while the Consortium is surveying the possibility of compensating environmental services through carbon sequestration. The perspective of analyses and studies on the role of agro-industry companies in Amazon and the necessity to establish a direct dialogue with this sector generated a debate within the Consortium that has yet to be resolved. Are the goals of the Green Highways Consortium best served through partnerships with the very powerful industries that are converting forests to fields at historically high rates? Should the Consortium focus on strengthening the proponents of the socio-environmental movement? Or both? Given the gathering economic force of agro-industry expansion in the Amazon, the answers to these questions are extremely important. The Amazon environmental movement is poorly equipped to address the explosive expansion of cattle ranching and soybean production. But the work of the consortium in the first year has been an important catalyst to a qualitative leap in the discussion of these centrally important issues by the key institutional actors represented in the consortium. At the moment, all consortium members have a much clearer idea of the likely impact of agroindustrial expansion, and are working much more actively on an adequate response - at all levels, from the field to public policy – even though there isn’t a consensus regarding how to deal with it.

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