Brazil’s Highway BR-319: Potential for deforestation on new Amazonian frontiers

Authors: Philip Fearnside*, INPA, Marcelo Augusto dos Santos Junior, Fundação Vitória Amazônica (FVA), Paulo Maurício Lima de Alencastro Graça, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia (INPA)
Topics: Land Use and Land Cover Change, Environmental Science, Latin America
Keywords: Amazonia, Brazil, Deforestation, Highways, Migration, Environmental impact, Spatial modeling, Amazon forest, Tropical forest, Rainforest
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: President's Boardroom, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

So far Brazil’s Amazonian deforestation has been almost entirely confined to the southern and eastern edges of the forest, known as the “arc of deforestation,” but Highway BR-319 and associated side roads will allow deforestation actors and processes to move into vast areas of previously inaccessible Amazon forest. This highway was built in 1973 and abandoned in 1988, thereby shielding much of the northern and western portions of Brazilian Amazonia from entry of deforesters. In 2015 “maintenance” of the abandoned road was allowed to begin without an Environmental Impact Assessment, the road became passible in 2017 and its final “reconstruction” and paving are planned. Planned state-government roads connecting to the BR-319 would open the immense block of forest in the western half of the state of Amazonas to migration. Migration from Rondônia to Manaus would also affect areas with existing roads in northern Amazonas and Roraima, which would increase the BR-319’s impact beyond that included in the present study. Our study simulates deforestation along the highway route in the area between the Madeira and Purus Rivers and in the forest block to the west of the Purus River that would be opened by planned state-government roads. Deforestation was simulated in three scenarios over the period from 2011 to 2100 using the AGROECO model in Dinamica EGO software. The study shows that the BR-319 and its associated side roads have a substantial impact on deforestation. Large as the modeled impact is, it understates the total impact of the highway project.

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