Conservationists lament departure of Brazilian minister

The sudden resignation of Brazilian Environment Minister on 13 May has been greeted with shock and regret by the conservationist community.

«This is a clear sign that environmental issues are not in the agenda of the government», said Denise Hamú, WWF-Brazil’s Secretary General.

«Since Marina Silva took office in January 2003, she was counteracted and discredited by the Federal Government», said Hamú. «Examples include during the debates on
genetically modified organisms (GMOs), alternatives for agri-business and especially the process to license hydroelectric dams on the Madeira River in the Amazon.»

WWF-Brazil paid tribute to significant progress in the environmental field achieved during Minister Silva’s office. Among others: the forestry policy to grant forest concessions, measures to
monitor, prevent and fight deforestation, the creation of the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio) to manage federal protected area sites; efforts for the approval of
the Atlantic Forest Law in the Congress, and the creation of the Brazilian Forestry Service.

According to Denise Hamú, the minister’s resignation is generating much insecurity towards the future.

«She tried in vain to build a sustainable development policy that involved all ministries and not just her own.

Another factor that, according to WWF-Brazil, contributed to the Minister’s resignation was President Lula’s recent decision not to delegate to her the coordination of the Sustainable Amazon
Plan launched earlier in May.

For WWF-Brazil’s Secretary General, the resignation of Marina Silva is also a great loss, because of her background. She was born in a village in a remote area of the Amazon region, has strong
links with the social movement and has been very active in environmental defence during her whole political career.

«Marina Silva’s resignation will have international repercussions for Brazil, and the only positive aspect is that we will have an excellent senator back», said Hamú.

The politician was re-elected senator in 2002 for the State of Acre and her terms ends in 2010.

On the same day Marina Silva resigned, some 200 farmers, forest product workers and fishermen participated in a public hearing in the House of Representatives on the delay caused by defining
the status of protected area sites.

And on May 13 also, a demonstration was held in front of the National Congress with the objective to put the Federal Government under pressure so as to accelerate the creation of extractive
reserves in the northern, northeaster and Midwestern regions of the country.

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