Lewandowski suspends government decree on caves

a decree signed by President Jair Bolsonaro that allows the construction of projects considered of public utility in cave areas is partially suspended until further deliberation by the plenary of the Federal Supreme Court (STF). The decision was taken this Monday (24/1) by the minister Ricardo Lewandowski, in partially meeting the action presented by the Sustainability Network.

government of SP

“Considering, in particular, the risk of irreversible damage to natural underground cavities and their areas of influence, I think that the granting, in part, of the precautionary measure claimed in this action is rigorously shown,” the minister wrote in his dispatch.

According to the decision, two provisions of the new legislation are suspended. One of them allowed the construction of enterprises and activities in the caves. Another, allowed the destruction of even those that environmental agencies classify as of maximum relevance.

The governmental act triggered protests from environmentalists, mainly from the Brazilian Society of Speleology (SBE). According to the entity, the caves will suffer environmental degradation, although they are sites in which there is geological and environmental protection.

“The contested decree promoted normative innovations that authorize the economic exploitation of these areas, consequently reducing the protection of this important environmental heritage. , constitutionally guaranteed”, wrote the magistrate.

The minister recalls that previous executive decrees on the same topic ensured protection to caves, typifying them as of maximum, high, medium or low relevance, ensuring the first full protection immediately. But he points out: “when dealing with this issue, the Decree attacked in this ADPF, among other negative aspects, allows caves classified as of maximum relevance to suffer irreversible impacts, provided that certain conditions are met, in my view incompatible — given their conspicuous vagueness — with the imperative to protect this natural heritage belonging not only to Brazilians, but to humanity itself as a whole”.

In addition, in the minister’s view, the new decree marked “a real setback in the country’s environmental legislation, by allowing – under the cloak of an apparent legality – that negative impacts, of an irreversible nature, affect caves considered to be of maximum environmental relevance, as well as its area of ​​influence, a possibility that is expressly prohibited by the previous rule”.

“It should be noted, as relevant, that the area of ​​influence of an underground cavity constitutes an important source of nutrients for underground ecosystems, covering hydrological basins, consisting, in addition, of the household circumscription of species responsible for the entry of food into caves, such as bats “, he stresses.

Click here to read Lewandowski’s decision
ADPF 935

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