Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s government has overturned regulations protecting mangroves and other fragile coastal ecosystems. This could lead to their destruction, environmentalists said, calling the authorities’ idea a “crime.” AFP reports.
The new government decision threatens the “permanent protection zones” created in 2002 to preserve Brazil’s tropical mangroves and sand dune bushes along its Atlantic coast.
Environmentalists have warned that the abolition of the rules would open up such land for development, with disastrous consequences for their ecosystems.
“These areas are already under intense pressure from real estate tycoons,” explains Mario Mantovani, head of SOS environmental group Mata Atlantica. “The 2002 rules at least protected them from further destruction,” he said in an interview with AFP, calling their abolition “a crime against society.”
The new ordinance is part of a series of controversial environmental decisions by the far-right president who has overseen deforestation in the Amazon rainforest and the Pantanal wetlands since taking office in January 2019.
In other decisions, the government also canceled a measure requiring environmental permits for irrigation projects, and the president allowed cement companies to burn empty pesticide containers to be converted into concrete, which environmentalists say is highly polluting.
“Even as we witness record environmental destruction in Brazil, President Salles is dedicating his time to helping to make matters worse,” environmental group Greenpeace said in a statement.