Worrying lack of transparency in Amazon data

. Feb 21, 2019
Worrying lack of transparency in Amazon data

In order to construct effective public policies in any area of government and any country in the world, public access to information is crucial. In the Brazilian Amazon, deforestation and land conflict are recurring issues, but essential data about these problems are not readily available to the population. A recent study from NGO Instituto Centro de Vida has shown that government websites publish less than 30 percent of vital environmental statistics about the Amazon.

While Brazilian legislation allows members of the public to request said data from government agencies, by way of the Access to Information Act (LAI), the same study found that only 53 percent of these solicitations are completed on time and in a satisfactory fashion.

</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The study analyzed 41 categories of information considered to be essential to the environmental oversight of the region, and surveyed the official websites of agencies in the nine Amazon states (Acre, Amapá, Amazonas, <a href="">Maranhão</a>, Mato Grosso, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima, and Tocantins) and the federal government.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Among the data studied were statistics about environmental licenses and fines, deforestation levels, land conflicts, reports of slave labor, and information about indigenous communities. Only 28 percent were made readily available on official government channels.</span></p> <hr /> <p><img loading="lazy" class="size-large wp-image-14254 aligncenter" src="" alt="amazon transparency" width="1024" height="634" srcset=" 1024w, 300w, 768w, 610w, 1459w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" /></p> <hr /> <h2>Lack of transparency around Brazil</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Levels of <a href="">transparency</a> are not consistent throughout the nine so-called &#8220;Legal Amazon&#8221; states. Mato Grosso and Pará are the leaders in &#8220;active transparency&#8221; (when the information is made available on websites, without the need for a LAI request), with around 50 percent of data published. At the other end of the table, the states of Maranhão and Rondônia each make only six percent of information available.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In compensation, the Rondônia state government complied with 100 percent of the LAI requests made in the study. Maranhão answered 78 percent.</span></p> <hr /> <p><img loading="lazy" class="alignnone size-large wp-image-14255" src="" alt="amazon deforestation" width="1024" height="683" srcset=" 1024w, 300w, 768w, 610w, 1200w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" /></p> <hr /> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The prize for the Amazon&#8217;s information black hole goes to Amapá, one of Brazil&#8217;s most northern states, bordering French Guiana and Suriname. Only 15 percent of essential environmental data is made available on the state government&#8217;s website, and none of the information requests made by the study were attended to promptly.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As the study goes into more granular detail, we are shown exactly which type of information is more readily available, and what data is the hardest to find. Statistics on land conflicts and settlements are less obtainable than any others (16 percent), while info on soybean production is far more accessible (40 percent).</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The importance of readily available information on the Brazilian Amazon has become even more imperative as rates of deforestation are increasing rapidly in the country. Data from the end of last year showed that deforestation jumped 38 percent throughout 2018. Two hundred forty-six square kilometers were lost in December 2018 alone, the equivalent of an area two and a half times the size of Paris.

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