Soil quality, agriculture settlement and deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon
Marcia C. Castro, Harvard University
Amazon development strategies often lacks proper knowledge of the region’s challenges, resources, and capabilities. Poorly planned and implemented agricultural settlements are likely to defy the main purpose of agrarian reform, resulting in significant environmental and socioeconomic burdens. The former refers to increased deforestation, exposing poor nutrient soils that will eventually result in areas of secondary succession, creating the need to clear even more. The latter is the burden on settlers, who move in with poor resources, and are forced to move out due to a combination of unfortunate events – e.g. debts, failed crops, and illness, and end up occupying other areas without any infrastructure. This process generates a vicious cycle that penalizes the poor, favors the rich, and puts pressure on the environment. Without effective government willingness and commitment, adequate financial and human resources, and effective law enforcement, it’s unlikely that this vicious cycle can be broken.