Government policies endanger the indigenous peoples of the Brazilian Amazon

Elsevier, Land Use Policy, Volume 108, September 2021
Conceicao K.V., Chaves M.E.D., Picoli M.C.A., Sanchez A.H., Soares A.R., Mataveli G.A.V. et al.

The Brazilian Amazon rainforest deforestation rate increased by 34.1% between 2018 and 2019, reaching even protected areas, such as Indigenous Lands (ILs). In particular, Ituna/Itatá IL, in the state of Pará, restricted to the study of Igarapé Ipiaçava isolated indigenous people, has experienced a 654% deforestation rate increase during the same period. The mainstream deforestation analysis explains it as a struggle between conservation and development, which is commonly typified by large-scale producers who replace natural vegetation with pasturelands and crop fields, especially in agricultural frontiers, as ILs are barriers for protecting forests. In this work, we expose a devised and underlying deforestation process in Ituna/Itatá, and argue that land grabbers and squatters have promoted this boom by moving in, clearing, subdividing, and occupying this IL as if it were real estate. Such process mischaracterizes it and obstructs the demarcation process, in the expectation of a land regularization law that authenticates selling the land in the future. This process seems to be promoted by the Brazilian Federal Government rhetoric and mediated by local politicians, somewhat passing on the message of feeble repression against invasions of public lands. Our results evidence a process of IL mischaracterization, with primary forests converted to pasturelands, and a 1994.30 ton year−1 increase of annual estimates of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) associated with fires. Also, 94% of Ituna/Itatá has been claimed in the Brazilian Rural Environmental Registry, resembling a city allotment process, with a road network conditioning and suggesting axes of deforestation expansion. Measures to prevent deforestation are vital not only to sustain land demarcation processes but also to stop it from spreading to other ILs.