Brazil wants to build a highway through the heart of the Amazon rainforest: scientists fear an eco-disaster
Brazilian lawmakers have passed a bill to build a highway through the heart of the Amazon rainforest.
The lower house of Brazil's Congress voted to approve a measure that weakens environmental licensing. It still needs Senate approval. Scientists say the highway will threaten the future of the world's largest rainforest, Euronews reports.
The bill allows for the use of environmental funds donated to Brazil to finance the highway project, such as the $1.3 billion (€1.18 billion) Amazon Fund, which is backed by the United States and European allies.
Highway project in Brazil could trigger deforestation in the Amazon
The highway was originally built in the 1970s by the military government, which was pushing for the settlement of the Amazon, but it was quickly abandoned.
By the end of the 1980s, most of the highway, which stretched for about 900 kilometers from Porto Velho in the state of Rondônia to Manaus in the state of Amazonas, had become a broken dirt road.
Most of the route is now impassable during the rainy season. Vehicles trying to make it during the dry months crawl along the broken pavement, dodging huge potholes and jungle debris.
Researchers say that the repaired road will trigger an explosion of deforestation in the Amazonas state, home to much of Brazil's best-preserved rainforest due to the lack of roads.
Every major highway project in the Amazon has caused a surge in land grabbing and illegal deforestation. Researchers say the BR-319 will open a new frontier for logging that could push the rainforest beyond the point of no return.