Railroads in the Amazon: A key strategy for reducing deforestation

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The article examines the impacts of paving highway BR-319, which connects two of the largest state capitals in the Brazilian Amazon. In recent years, the construction of highways has been the biggest driver of deforestation in the region. As currently planned, BR- 319 will run through the middle of the largest contiguous area of intact forest in Brazil. By 2050, the deforestation projected to result from the paving of BR-319 will release the equivalent of between 950 million to 4.9 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. The potential negative impacts of building highways in the Amazon calls into question the appropriateness of building a transport system comprised of highways in the Amazon region. The article discusses the legal framework and the political context of the planning process for BR-319. It also examines how the proposed construction of a railroad system instead of repaving BR-319 could contain deforestation, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and promote sustainable development in the Amazon.

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