AUG 10, 2016 08:10 AM PDT

A Gold for Brazil's Environment

 


The Munduruku indigenous people of Brazil and environmentalists alike have recently won a battle worthy of a gold medal — blocking construction of a hydroelectric dam by the São Luiz do Tapajós. The São Luiz do Tapajós dam was heavily opposed by the Munduruku Indians, who were anxious of the consequences that dam would have on their lands and livelihoods. They’ve lobbied vigorously and effectively against the Tapajós dam and recently their hard work has reaped support from international NGOs, including Greenpeace, and succeeded in its goal. Brazil’s environmental agency, Ibama, has decided not to give an environmental license to Eletrobrás, the company developing the $8.6 billion plant, which would be first of a series of dams planned for the Tapajós river basin.
 
The São Luiz do Tapajós dam's reservoir would have encompassed 72,225 hectares (278 square miles), part of it flooding Munduruku territory. Brazil still has plans to build 43
 
According to Mongabay News, “If it had gone ahead, the 8,000-megawatt São Luiz do Tapajós dam would have been the country’s second largest hydroelectric power station, after the controversial Belo Monte dam, which became operational earlier this year. It would have also been one of the largest hydroelectric dams in the world.”

The approval for the dam would have meant catastrophe for the approximately 10,000 Munduruku people that live around the river Tapajós. Given that the dam would flood a vast area, it would require indigenous communities to vacate their lands, most likely by forced removal. Such an act is strictly prohibited by the Brazilian constitution except in cases of disease epidemics or war.
 
Chief Juarez Saw Munduruku, from the Sawré Muybu Indigenous Land:

The Munduruku have faced years of struggle because of the federal government’s refusal to name the 170,000 hectares (656 square miles) of Sawré Muybu land as indigenous territory. However, a turning point occurred in April of this year when Funai, Brazil’s agency on indigenous affairs, finally published a long awaited initial report that recognized the Sawré Muybu lands as indigenous. This came after the Indians themselves demarcated out their own land boundaries as a symbol of their frustration.

The ruling now has to be endorsed by Suely Araujo, the president of Ibama. However, as she is a member of the licensing commission, which voted unanimously against authorization, she is expected to ratify the decision shortly.

Sources: Mongabay News, The Guardian, HydroWorld, Common Dreams
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
NOV 28, 2018
Plants & Animals
NOV 28, 2018
Does Predation Drive the Interspecific Relationship Between Anemones and Clownfish?
Interspecific mutualism – when two different animal species depend on one another for survival – can be found all around the globe. But perhaps...
DEC 19, 2018
Technology
DEC 19, 2018
Deep Learning Improves Cloud Detection Methods
To understand the workings of earth systems, atmospheric scientists often search data images for the clouds as part of their research. However, the manual...
DEC 19, 2018
Plants & Animals
DEC 19, 2018
Different Pilot Whale Groups Exhibit Different Call Dialects, Study Finds
Depending on where you’re from, you may speak the same language as someone else, but with a slight accent or dialect that sets your speech apart from...
FEB 04, 2019
Plants & Animals
FEB 04, 2019
Butterfly Populations Succeed When Natural Forests Surround Their Grasslands
Pollinating insects are exceedingly vital to the ecosystem they help support, and unfortunately, many of them are in decline – butterflies included....
FEB 13, 2019
Plants & Animals
FEB 13, 2019
New Turtle Species Discovered in Asia, But it's Almost Extinct Already
Just when you thought scientists have uncovered every Earth-dwelling creature they possibly could, a new animal discovery makes headlines. The latest unear...
FEB 18, 2019
Plants & Animals
FEB 18, 2019
Marine Protected Areas Crucial for Commercially Harvested Animal Populations
Humans commercially harvest many marine animals because a booming market exists above the ocean’s surface. Unfortunately, some these same animals are...
Loading Comments...