They Don’t Use Only the Wind: Policies and Conflicts Between Conservation and Sustainable Land Use on the Coast of Maranhão, Northeastern Brazil.

Authors: WELLINGTON ROMÃO OLIVEIRA*, FUNCEME - Meteorology and Water Resources Foundation of Ceará-Brazil, JOHN CHRISTOPHER BROWN, The University of Kansas - Professor, Vice Provost for Faculty Development, EDSON VICENTE DA SILVA, Federal University of Ceará - Titular Professor, JULIANA FELIPE FARIAS, Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte - Professor
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Energy, Land Use and Land Cover Change
Keywords: Wind Farms, Conflicts, Political Ecology, Brazil
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In Brazil, protected areas face a number of problems, ranging from the arbitrary criteria used for the creation of conservation units, to ineffective management and a lack of adequate controls. In many cases, the areas are subject to substantial encroachment, and may often be occupied progressively by loggers, farmers and other groups that exploit natural resources. This process is justified by the need to generate income and employment, improving the quality of life of local populations, based on the hypothesis of the legitimate “sustainable” exploitation of the land and its natural resources. In this context, the present study analyzed the consequences of the installation of wind farms in the Environmental Protected Area (EPA) of Pequenos Lençóis Maranhenses on the east coast of the Brazilian state of Maranhão. This EPA encompasses a mosaic of ecosystems, including dune fields, coastal restinga, mangroves, and lagoons, which contain a diverse and rare fauna. Eight wind farms were installed on the coastal plain, principally on dune fields and plains of eolian deflation. Despite being a legally protected area, activities such as the installation of wind farms are able to obtain environmental licensing easily, and they even receive incentives from the government, considering their status as a source of “clean" energy. The installation of wind farms along the northeast coast occurs in areas that present marked environmental instability within the territories of traditional communities of fishermen and shellfish farmers causing impacts on the natural dynamics of the physical environment and the way of life of communities.

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