As dirt tracks go, the BR-163 is an important one. It runs down the centre of Brazil, almost like a spine. It connects the 'world's breadbasket' to the 'world's lungs'. Namely, the fields and pastures of Mato Grosso to the Amazonian Rainforest.
Currently, in rainy season it can take two weeks to drive from one end to another. But, that's too long for some. So over the next four years, the plan is to make this dirt-track into a super highway. An asphalted BR-163 will mean cheaper soybean exports, which will mean more soybean planted which will mean less Rainforest.
It will also mean cheaper timber, as it will be both easier and quicker to remove it, which will mean they will sell more which will mean less Rainforest. Up till now, one of the biggest protectors of the Rainforest has been the sheer inaccessibility of it. And the associated costs of getting trees and Soya out of it. Even so, 1/2 % of the forest is lost every year.
So what difference would the new paved road have? Well, one estimate is this road development could deforest 30-40% of the Amazon. Of course, the businessmen are for it, the loggers are for it, the Soya growers are for it, the lobbyists are for it. They speak on behalf of progress, change and ultimately, greed. But who speaks for trees? Will The Brazilian Government? Will the people of Brazil? Will the rest of the world? After all, we all have a vested interest in keeping the world's lungs fit and strong. Today, we will breathe in and out over 21,600 times. Fortunately, that goes for businessmen, loggers, Soya growers and lobbyists too. But who speaks for the trees? Let's hope common sense will.
85% of deforestation takes place within 50km of a road.
15% of the Amazon has been lost since the 1960's.
Between 22,000 and 49,000 square kilometres will be lost within 35 years.
Less than 20% of the Amazon is suitable for Soya.
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (for kids and adults).
I speak for the trees by Dr. Seuss' Lorax.