In Amazon Basin countries highway development is akin to economic development. With the extensive highway development comes human and environmental hazards. In an article about the Transoceanica highway project between Brazil and Peru Tina Butler (2005) stated that “ Roadways alter patterns of human settlement, accelerate the destruction of natural habitat and aid in the transmittal of disease. ” Despite the concerns of environmentalists governments, citizens, and agricultural producers in both countries view the development as positive. Pros and Cons of Highway Development
The purpose of the Transoceanica highway is to provide an economic link between the capitals of Sao Paolo, Brazil and Lima, Peru. Brazil has already enjoyed significant economic benefit from agricultural exports to China. By linking the two cities, Peru hopes to share in the export trade with China. Residents in both areas see employment opportunities as the primary benefit of the road expansion. The governments see increased revenues for their countries as the primary benefit of road expansion. The Brazilian government is investing more than 47% of the cost to build the Peruvian side of the highway.
Environmentalists see a multitude of issues to be weighed against the financial and economic benefits. The highway and the roads that expand from the highway first and foremost destroy the natural habitat that existed before construction. Since the purpose of the highway is to accommodate the transport of agricultural products, additional rainforest habitat is destroyed to make room for soybean farms, a major commodity exported from Brazil to China. It is estimated that 400 40-ton trucks will bring products out of Brazil on a daily basis.
This causes a secondary concern of emissions from these trucks. With fewer forest vegetation to absorb CO2 and other emissions, there will be health concerns as well as environmental concerns. Immigrants and emigrants that come to work legitimately and those who come to participant in illegal logging are at health risks from the vehicle emissions from the highways. Additionally, illegal logging further destroys the forests; and urban development to accommodate the emigrating workers (housing, food production and transportation) increase the environmental hazards. Opinion of Advocacy Groups
Since the Transoceanica highway project benefits the agricultural business in Brazil and Peru, farm lobbyist groups have criticized environmental objections to the highway project. They believe that environmental concerns are really the concerns of other countries who want to compete in the agricultural export, not to save the environment. The government has to act as an environmental advocate as well as a human and economic development advocate. The government is faced with the task of maintaining the country’s natural resources while at the same time creating jobs and economic opportunities for the country’s residents and citizens.
Citizens are faced with the decision to maintain or destroy the natural resources of their land; or face continued poverty and self destruction or harvest natural resources that will provide them with better life opportunities. Conclusion In developing countries like Brazil, environmental impact speaks to more than the country’s natural resources. How does a country survive and thrive in a global environment if it has no source of income producing exports? How does a country produce and export anything without harvesting its own natural resources?
While highway development has taken a toll on Brazil’s natural resources, it has provided new resources to Brazil’s residents. Road access allows people to be closer to employment opportunities. Travel for import and export purposes facilitates more business and economic opportunities for citizens. Governments and citizens will now be charged with the task of reconciling environmental hazards with the hazards of limiting further development.
References Butler, T. Chinese demand drives road-building and deforestation in the Amazon. Mongabay. com. Retrieved April 24, 2008, from http://news. mongabay. com/2005/0407-tina_butler. html
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