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One of Amazon's biggest deforestation wins end to protected parks

The government of Brazil's third-largest state has abandoned a legal battle to protect one of the Amazon's most biodiverse areas, prompting environmentalists to gave a shock to The upshot of that decision is that those responsible for the extensive deforestation of protected land will eventually win their lawsuit against the government...there will be no parks.

Antonio Jose Rossi Junqueira Vilera has been fined millions of dollars for deforestation in Brazil and the theft of thousands of hectares of Amazon rainforest. However, it was the company associated with him that filed a lawsuit against the state of Mato Grosso, claiming that he improperly set the boundaries of the Cristalino II State Park.

FILE - An endemic white-fronted spider monkey (Ateles marginatus), an endangered species due to habitat loss, climbs a branch in Cristalino II State Park in the state of Mato Grosso, in Brazil, in July 2019. (Rodrigo Vargas via AP)
File - Endemic Great Spider Monkey (Ateles marginatus), 2019 7 Endangered species due to habitat loss, climbing a branch on the moon, Cristalino II State Park, Mato Grosso state, Brazil. (Rodrigo Vargas via AP)

This park he sprawls over 118,000 hectares, larger than New York City and a transition zone between the Amazon and the arid Cerrado his biome. is in It is home to the endemic white spider monkey (Ateles marginatus), a species threatened with extinction due to habitat loss.

In a 3-2 decision, Mato Grosso's Superior Court ruled that the government's creation of his park in 2001 was illegal because it occurred without public consultation.

The state government did not appeal the decision and referred it to a final decision. Now the park will be officially dissolved, a government news agency confirmed to The Associated Press.

The loss of the park is a measure of the state of the Amazon. Not only are environmental laws not enforced, courts are currently voiding major protected areas. Scientists say that not only are ecosystems being lost, but that large-scale deforestation is undermining the ability of forests to absorb carbon dioxide, which plays an important role for the planet.

Vandalizing the Forest

Vilera's presence was well known there before he challenged the legitimacy of Cristalino II Park. In 2005, he was fined $27 million for destroying 11,000 hectares of forest within a protected area, according to local reports at the time. made headlines in Brazil for being at the center of a groundbreaking crackdown on deforestation in the Amazon known as Operation Flying Rivers, carried out by Brazil's environmental agency Ibama. Federal Police and Attorney General.

Vilela was also charged with clearing his 30,000 hectares of public forest in the state of Para. This equates to his 5 lots in Manhattan. Brazil's attorney general called Vilera the worst deforestation perpetrator the Amazon has ever seen.

Legal proceedings in Brazil often last for years. If convicted in Parra's case, Vilela could face more than 200 years in prison. He could be fined over $60 million.

FILE - A black hawk sits on a tree in Cristalino II State Park in the state of Mato Grosso, in Brazil, July 22, 2019. (Rodrigo Vargas via AP)
File - Blackhawk perched in a tree at Cristalino II State Park 2019 July 22, Mato, Brazil, in the state of Grosso. , did not respond to messages left by the Associated Press on Wednesday and Thursday. follows the classic script of

The way to steal land in Brazil is to clear the forest and then claim it, he said.

"It is through deforestation that land robbers materialize land ownership and are recognized as 'owners' by other gangs," he wrote in his AP. .

As of March 2022, Cristalino II had lost about 22,000 hectares to deforestation, despite being a fully protected area, according to official data. The destroyed area covers almost 20% of the park.

Brazil's largest soybean-producing state, Mato he Grosso, is run by Governor Mauro Mendes. Mauro Mendes is an agribusiness-promoting politician and far-right Jair who is a supporter of President Bolsonaro. He reiterated that Brazil has too many protected areas and should not create more of them.

Mendez's Secretary of State for the Environment is Moren Lazaretti, a lawyer who has made a career defending loggers against environmental criminal charges.

During his tenure, Mato Grosso experienced the worst environmental disaster in Brazil's history. In 2020, wildfires destroyed 40% of his biome in the state's Pantanal, the world's most extensive tropical wetland. Mendez signed a law Thursday allowing cattle to be raised on private reserves in the Pantanal.

Environment Secretary Mato Grosso said in an email that he would proceed with the demolition of the park and did not appeal because it was "deemed technically infeasible." The office said adjacent Cristalino State Park I is still a protected area, covering 66,000 hectares (163,000 acres) of Amazon rainforest.

The Mato Grosso Social and Environmental Observatory, a nonprofit network, said in a statement that the park's extinction set a "dangerous precedent" and demonstrated the inability of state governments to protect protected areas. It said it was considering legal options to keep Cristalino II.

"The public does not have to pay for the state of Mato Grosso's neglect and incompetence," Angela Cusack, head of the national network of conservation units, told her AP.