Originally published on 2/2/2008 by O Estado de S. Paulo
Three timber companies, Taiplac, Primavera and Tailaminas, in the south of Pará, were responsible for the illegal removal of nearly 10 thousand cubic meters of native Amazon wood. Fifty trailers were needed to transport the material, ceased in an operation that focused on the municipality of Tailândia. This inspection was the first of a total of 120 that will be carried out this year. Those responsible for the companies were not located.
Tailândia is not on the lost of the 36 municipalities that most deforest over the past months, according to a list released by the federal government in January. But it is a timber center, where sawmills are concentrated that receive, cut and ship this wood to Brazil and abroad. Other cities of Pará have already exercised this function in the past, such as Paragominas, Altamira and Novo Progresso. When the forest’s potential is depleted, without any more trees worth cutting, the industrial park is moved to another region. It is the cycle of Amazon destruction.
“We have received very strong denunciations linking common and environmental crimes,” explains Pará Secretary of the Environment, Valmir Ortega. Indeed, Tailândia, with its 65 thousand inhabitants, is on the list of cities with the highest homicide rates.
The enormous presence of timber industries is already visible on Highway PA-150, which accesses the municipality. There are more than 150 in the region. They are the driving force for the local economy.
Lumberjacks from the south of Pará recognize that many trees are still being removed from the forest illegally, and then the product is processed and legalized with false forest certification documents. The rare and inefficient inspections facilitate this process of “legalizing” senna, anjelywood, softwood and melancieira (Alexa grandiflora), some of the species ceased in this operation.
“We are at the end of the timber cycle in Tailândia, which should last at most another five years,” says the partner of Indústria e Comércio de Madeira Catarinense, Ademir Bortolanza, born in Rio Grande do Sul and raised in Santa Catarina who arrived in the region almost twenty years ago. His company was inspected yesterday, but he was not initially caught with any illegal wood, such as those mentioned above. “There isn’t much more (clandestine commerce). What has appeared is wood from invasions,” he says, recalling that recently invaded areas have offered the product to sawmills.
Ortega admits the wood may be coming from invasions, but he does not associate it with the landless movement. “We call them sem-tora. They form a true gang that specializes in “legalizing” wood.
The operation began on Monday and it has no fixed date to finish. It could very well double the amount of ceased wood, making it one of the largest operations to date in the Amazon. Besides ceasing the wood, charcoal factories were interdicted as was a mining company that was illegally extracting sand. This action to stop deforestation, with more than 120 men, is part of a joint operation involving Ibama, the military and civil police of Pará and the state Secretaries of Finance and the Environment. Ibama’s national director of Environmental Protection, Flavio Montiel, underscored that different from other operations, this one included the participation of state and federal governments.
Inpe’s Deter system recorded the felling of 3,235 km² of Amazon forest between August and December of last year. Pará was ranked second in deforestation during this period, devastating 591 km², and only trailing Mato Grosso. Between August 2006 and July 2007, 50% of the 11,224 km² of deforestation occurred in the State.
Ibama shall conduct 120 joint inspections in 2008
Ibama and the government of Pará will carry out 120 joint operations this year. One of the reasons for the increased repression is to close in on the commercialization of this illegal wood.
Last year, the government of Pará authorized the removal of 3 million cubic meters. However, the industrial park for wood is capable of processing about 12 million cubic meters. The government admits the companies are working at full capacity and 70% of the logs are illegal.
A decree signed at the end of last year by State Governor Ana Júlia Carepa (from PT – Labor Party) could be a positive sign. All of the illegal wood ceased must be auctioned rather than rot in Ibama’s warehouses. The money will be used to combat further deforestation.