Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Matto Grosso:

I was stunned today by a map of deforestation in Brazil. The map showed various different states of the Amazonian region (Amazonia Legal, in Brazil), and one of the ones with the greatest degree of clearing was Matto Grosso. I had always heard of Matto Grosso as the depths of the jungle. Cabeza de Vaca and all that. It was the archetype. To see all those red marks was to have my memory of childhood books on exploration wounded.

I had always known that this process was going on, having seen it live in many overflights of the Amazon. I remember being stunned then when I realized that one is never out of sight of a clearing. The night-time flights are even more stunning - fire, fire, everywhere. Never out of sight of a raging fire. But what can Brazil do? They have unleashed a genie with the road building program, and now Avanca Brasil will prove interesting to watch as it too blunders into the forest, fully mechanized.

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