Rondônia's court cancels reduction of protected areas in the Amazon

In defeat for the Pocket Governor Colonel Marcos Rocha (PSL), the Court of Justice of Rondônia considered unconstitutional a law, approved in May 2021, which generated the reduction of 191 thousand hectares of state conservation units —which would open the way to legalize deforestation and land grabbing. The decision was unanimous.

“The duty of efficient preservation of environmental goods was not complied with. And the ‘solution’ was to endorse the illegality and encourage illicit and spurious occupations”, stated judge Miguel Monico Neto , in his vote at the judgment, which took place this Monday (24).

“Chance a law remains, the typical victory of daring will occur, in which true criminal organizations foment invasions in institutional areas that should be protected”, he said.

In his decision, the magistrate accepted the opinion of the PGE ( Attorney General’s Office), according to which the reduction of the Resex (Extractivist Reserve) Jaci-Paraná and the PES (State Park) Guajará-Mirim goes against the public interest and could not have been done without technical studies, in addition to risk of generating more conflicts between invaders and traditional and indigenous populations.

The Adin (Direct Action of Unconstitutionality) was the responsibility of the Public Ministry State of Rondônia.

In his oral statement, the Attorney General, Ivanildo de Oliveira, recalled that Governor Rocha himself signed a veto message to the bill approved by the Legislative Assembly , classifying the reduction as the “greatest environmental setback in the history of Rondônia”.

The message, revealed by Folha, was never published in the Official Gazette do Estado: hours after signing the veto, Rocha changed his mind and decided to approve the reduction of protected areas in full, in 10 of May this year.

The governor never explained the turnaround. Wanted by the report this Tuesday (23), the government of Rondônia did not say whether it will appeal.

One obstacle is the position of the PGE itself, which would be in charge of the appeal, but drafted the opinion against the reduction and ratified this position during the judgment on Monday.

In a press release, the state government limited itself to saying that “it respects the determination of the Judiciary and will continue to work with other state actors to reduce the socio-environmental conflicts that currently occur in the aforementioned conservation units”.

The law annulled by the Justice would practically extinguish the Resex Jaci-Paraná, which would be without 24% of the territory of 120 thousand hectares. It is one of the most devastated protected areas in the country, with more than half of its forest already converted to pasture.

Ha 120 a thousand heads of cattle, according to the state government itself, despite large-scale cattle raising being a prohibited activity.

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“It was our victory”, says indigenous leader Txai Suruí, 23, the main Brazilian highlight in the recently closed COP26 in Glasgow, while speaking at the main event of the climate summit.

“These are conservation units next to the Karipuna indigenous land. If we lost these areas, it would be much more weakened , at the mercy of invaders. In addition, this action would be used to destroy other conservation units”, says the young woman, from the Paiter-Surui people.

In the last year of law school, Txai Suruí is part of the legal core of Kanindé, one of the NGOs that filed against the reduction, including the WWF.

Monday’s decision, however, did not include an order to the removal of invaders.

In addition, with the expectation of regularization, deforestation between August 191 and July

accumulated 10, 7,000 hectares in Jaci-Paraná, according to the Prodes system, from Inpe (National Institute for Space Research). It was the third most deforested conservation unit in the country in that period.

For the coordinator of the legal nucleus of Kanindé, Ramires Andrade, the next step will be to remove the invaders and recover the area. “It is not our expected result yet. It is necessary to remove the invaders and the cattle. We will insist on this search.”

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