The BR-319 (Manaus-Porto Velho) Highway passes through large areas of intact rainforest, seen here in 2018 with road “maintenance” underway. Source: Folha de São Paulo. The text of this commentary is updated from an earlier Portuguese-language version of the author’s column at Amazônia Real. The BR-319 (Manaus-Porto Velho) Highway was built in the early 1970s by Brazil’s military dictatorship, but was abandoned in 1988. In 2016, a “maintenance” program was authorized, and the highway is now passable during the dry season. The currently proposed “Reconstruction” of BR-319, which would build a new paved road atop the old dirt roadbed, is certainly among the most consequential decisions facing Brazil today. The environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the project has been submitted to the licensing agency (IBAMA, Brazil’s environmental agency), where it is receiving accelerated treatment for what appears to be a foreordained approval. The hasty authorization of a project that implies a major expansion of the area in Amazonia that is exposed to deforestation is extremely unwise. So far, deforestation has been almost entirely limited to the “arc of deforestation” along the southern and eastern edges of the Amazon forest in Brazil, and to the eastern half of the region where road access is already implanted. Brazil’s Legal Amazon region. The “arc of deforestation” is the red area along the southern and eastern edges of the forest. The BR-319 cuts the remaining Amazon basin forest in half, providing access to vast areas of standing forest by those who have deforested the…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer