The temptation for financial gains has had the upper hand over environmental concerns. In view of attracting investment, the Brazilian President Michel Temer has abolished the Renca reserve in Amazon, thus inciting a gold rush towards Amazon.

His decision is to urge mining companies, road builders as well as workers to exploit the reserve to stimulate the country’s economy to the detriment of the environment. Already, more than 20 local and international firms have expressed their interest as this region is thought to be rich in deposits of gold, copper, iron ore, nickel, manganese, and tantalum.

Illegal activities are foreseen in the Renca Reserve

The Brazilian government explains that this foreign investment will improve exports and boost the suffering economy that has been struggling to emerge from the recession, and those conservation areas, as well as indigenous territories, will not be affected. The decree was published on the 23rd of August 2017.

The Opposition Senator Randolfe Rodrigues of the Sustainability Network Party decries this as the “biggest attack on the Amazon of the last 50 years”. Amazon activists share the latter’s views as commercial exploitation in the past had entailed illegal activities by land grabbers, artisanal miners and road builders.

Irreversible damage caused to the Amazon forest

Christain Poirier of Amazon Watch is certain that scrapping the Renca reserve to allow mining will create great havoc on not only the environment but on the indigenous communities too. Mauricio Voivodic, the Executive Director of WWF-Brazil, on his side, predicts that this gold rush will trigger an irreversible damage to local cultures, a loss of biodiversity and water resources and deforestation.

He also warns that land conflicts may be intensified due to this change.

The Amazon is the 'Lungs of our Planet'

Stretching over 47,000 sq km, equivalent to the size of Switzerland, the Renca reserve is nestled between the Amapa and Para states. It is also known as the National Reserve of Copper and Associates. The region has nine protected areas including rainforests, ecological reserves and indigenous lands such as the Tumucumaque Mountains National Park, the Paru and Amapa State Forests, the Jari Ecological Station, the Maicuru Biological Reserve, the Waiapi Indigenous Lands amongst others.

The reserve was set up in 1984. During the last 40 years, more than 20% of the rainforests in Amazon has been cut down, causing a negative impact on the environment. The Amazon is considered as the “Lungs of our Planet” and is home to more than 10 million species of animals, insects, and plants.