The Sierra Ricardo Franco park was meant to be a conservation area keeping rare wildlife
To understand why the Brazilian government is purposely losing the battle against deforestation, all we need to do is retrace the bootmarks of the Edwardian adventurer Percy Fawcett along the Amazonian border with Bolivia.
During a failed attempt to sweep a magnificent tabletop plateau here in 1906, the wanderer roughly croaked on the first of his numerous tours to South America. Back then, the field was so far from human habitation, the foliage so dense and the terrain so steep that Fawcett and his party rose close to starvation.
He returned home with narratives of a rise, impassable mesa teeming with wildlife and irrigated by secret cascades and crystalline flows. By some accountings, this was one of the legends that induced his acquaintance Arthur Conan Doyle to write The Lost World about a fictional plateau protruding high above the jungle that served as a sanctuary for species long ago extinct elsewhere.
In their wildest fictions, however, neither Fawcett nor Conan Doyle are likely to have imagined the modern actuality of that plateau, which can no longer be certain of protection from geography, the law or Brazils international commitments.
Today, orange grunge streets, cut into the woodland by illegal loggers, lead you to the north-western side of the heightened hilltop. Now called the Serra Ricardo Franco state park, this is nominally a preservation field put together with the assistance provided by the World Bank. Instead of forest, however, you find swaths of land occupied by farmers, deprived of trees, and turned over to grassland for 240,000 kine. There are even private airfields inside the parks borders, which exist on maps only.
Far from being an isolated field where a vagrant might starve, this is now despite its dubious law status one of the worlds great regional centres for food production. In recent months, it has also rose as a represent of the resurgent influence of a landowning class in Brazil who, even more than in the US under Donald Trump, are cashing in on the termination of the wild.
Locals say a member of President Michel Temers cabinet chief of staff Eliseu Padilha owns ranches here on hillsides deprived of woodland in a presumably safeguarded ballpark. The municipal ombudsmen told the Observer the cattle raised here are then sold in contravention of pledges to prosecutors and international consumers to JBS, the worlds biggest meat-packing corporation, which is at the centre of a huge bribery gossip.
These accusations are denied by farmers but there is no doubt the government is easing dominations as it opens up more land for ranches, barriers, streets and soy subjects to meet the growing craving of China. Last time, Brazil reported an alarming 29% increase of deforestation, conjuring doubts that the country will be able to meet its world-wide commitments to reduce carbon emissions. Rather than an phenomenon, there seems to symbol a return to historical standards for a number of countries that has been built on 500 years of land seizures that were later legalised by the politicians who benefited from them.
The concurrent erosion of legal authority and natural habitatcan be seen in numerous Brazilian commonwealths: the newest soy frontiers of Maranho, Tocantins and Bahia; the hydropower heartland of Par and the wild west mining and logging various regions of Rondnia and Acre. But this is the case in Mato Grosso that the political powers behind deforestation associated with fraud, violence, feeble the rules and deliberate obfuscation of land ownership reveal themselves most clearly.