VARIOUS AUTHORS (names at the end of the text)
The debate on public environmental policies – the result of a history of struggle and the engagement of civil society – requires responsibility, transparency and commitment to the facts. The outdated vision of “environmental policy forged in mechanisms that reproduce violence against traditional societies” does not hold up in the state of São Paulo.
The Infrastructure and Environment Secretariat (Sima) and the Forestry Foundation (FF) do not antagonize environmental conservation and traditional communities and peoples. On the contrary, they recognize the cultural and intellectual value of these peoples. There is a symbiotic relationship with substantial gains for both. The presence of these communities helps to contain the devastation of nature and environmental resources. The existence of a conservation unit, however, prevents speculative use, in addition to ensuring the continuity of occupation of ancestral territory and the traditional way of life.
This, however, does not rule out the need, as recognized by biodiversity sciences, to maintain natural areas protected from human presence to allow ecological and evolutionary processes to occur with the least possible interference. This is vital for wild animals, such as the jaguar, southern muriqui and jacutinga, to exist in the future. In addition, these areas are essential for scientific research, including for assessing and comparing the impacts of human activities on less preserved natural systems. The knowledge acquired through these studies is fundamental for the elaboration of recovery or sustainable management strategies.
Since 2019, several measures have been taken to strengthen this relationship. In regions of high social vulnerability, such as the Vale do Ribeira, the public visitation operation was delegated to eight quilombola communities in order to foster knowledge, raise awareness among tourists and generate income for about 30 families. On the coast, the approval of the Management Plans of the Marine APAs, an unprecedented instrument in the state and which had been in debate for more than ten years, gave prestige to artisanal fishing. On the island of Cardoso, Fundação Florestal’s servants helped to rebuild traditional communities affected by the rupture of the sandy cordon. As a measure to minimize the impacts of the pandemic, the Foundation expanded the visitation control in the areas where the communities are located and liberated the implantation of gardens in the Conservation Units on an emergency basis, among other actions.
With regard to Jureia, the need to guarantee areas for the preservation of nature and to shelter traditional communities created in 2013, after eight years of discussion at Alesp, the Barra do Una and Despraiado Sustainable Development Reserves (RDS). In four years, the state government has invested around R $ 10 million in works in these places and instituted the Mosaic Councils for participatory management.
The same debate also demonstrated the impossibility of creating a new RDS in Rio Verde and Grajaúna, due to the environmental importance of the area, as it is the most important and well-preserved Atlantic Forest gradient in the world. The site is considered by researchers to be the sanctuary of biodiversity, declared a Natural Heritage of Humanity and a Biosphere Reserve by Unesco. Far from representing any discrimination, just the presence of any human being in space would already have an immeasurable impact on the species in the region.
In 2019, inspection teams spotted irregular buildings in this area. Regardless of whether the action was promoted by relatives of residents of the region’s RDSs, which in itself does not constitute the right to occupation in the area, given that there are a number of legal factors to be considered, the work took place after the rejection of the administrative request, clandestinely and outside the law, which motivated the demolitions carried out.
The discussion is in the courts, and the Fundação Florestal, which has received expressions of support from more than a hundred specialists and social institutions, is responding to all questions in a transparent manner.
However, it is worth clarifying that this specific case cannot be used to create the narrative of a persecution or lack of recognition for the caiçaras communities, nor to underestimate the various measures that have been adopted in favor of traditional peoples. The subject of the discussion is much larger and deals with the impacts of human occupation in the Conservation and Comprehensive Protection Units, which represent only 4% of the São Paulo territory.
Therefore, in commitment to the facts and transparency, we have seen the public reiterate the respect and support for traditional communities through concrete projects and actions, as shown in this article, but also the concern about the enormous challenge for sustainability, which aims to ensure environmental conservation for future generations. Finally, we emphasize that there is no intention, at least on the part of Sima and FF, for a dispute between groups that combine the same ideals, which would only serve opponents of important socio-environmental causes.
Secretary of Infrastructure and Environment of the State of São Paulo
Undersecretary of Environment of the State of São Paulo
President of the Forestry Foundation of the State of São Paulo
Director of the Forestry Foundation of the State of São Paulo
TRENDS / DISCUSSIONS
Articles published with a subscription do not reflect the opinion of the newspaper. Its publication obeys the purpose of stimulating the debate on Brazilian and world problems and to reflect the diverse trends of contemporary thought.