Sunday, August 1, 2010

Amazon Bridge Opens Opportunities, Poses Threats

A new bridge being constructed over the Amazon River near the northern Brazilian city of Manaus is seen as an opportunity to expand the region's economic viability and connectivity with the rest of the country, but also a threat to the neighboring rainforest. Manaus is one of the 12 cities hosting the 2014 World Cup.

The bridge - the first on the world's greatest river system - symbolises the surging development at the heart of the world's largest rainforest and will bring much-needed economic opportunities for those living on the far bank. But environmentalists fear that the bridge, combined with new gas pipelines, roads and rising populations, could open up the rainforest to further destruction.

Manaus is the steamy and sprawling industrial capital of the vast Amazonas state, manufacturing the latest flatscreen TVs and mobile phones for the whole of Brazil. It has been an island of wealth for 200 years, but it is now opening up in all directions.

The bridge runs from north to south, to the undeveloped towns of Iranduba, Manacapuru and Novo AirĂ£o and towards the untouched jungle. To the west, a 600km gas pipeline will next month begin powering a huge new electricity power station by bringing energy from a pristine part of the forest at Urucu into the city.

First Amazon bridge to open world's greatest rainforest to development
The Guardian via Environment South Africa
July 29, 2010