Highways Devastating the Amazon

The greatest threat to Brazil's Amazon Rain Forest is not just farming or logging, but the road construction that makes both possible, writes Stephanie Brault.
November 13, 2009, 10am PST | Michael Dudley
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The massive road building underway in the Amazon will accelerate the destruction of the Amazon.

"An ambitious effort to expand trade routes in Brazil, especially from the Amazon to the Pacific Ocean and Asian Markets, is well underway. Two major highways are of particular concern: The Trans-Amazonian Highway (BR 230) and the Soy Highway (BR 163) demonstrate the work being done to unify infrastructural elements in South America. This effort, known as the Initiative for the Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South America (IIRSA), involves a plan to develop $69 billion in highways, dams, ports and other projects tying together the economies of the sprawling continent. Brazil is committed to spending upwards of $40 billion on integration projects...Destruction of the rainforest in Brazil has accelerated since 1970, coinciding with the construction of the Trans-Amazonian highway."

While this program is being undertaken as part of Brazil's economic growth strategy, scientists warn that, if unchecked, will result in the destruction of the Rain Forest and ultimately the economic ruin of Brazil.

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Published on Friday, November 13, 2009 in Council on Hemispheric Affairs
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