Brazil’s new soy railway a threat to the environment, say experts

The Ferrogrão project involves building a railway directly from Brazil's soy belt to its major ports in the north. But construction would take works right through major conservation areas, threatening the livelihood of indigenous peoples

railway soy ferrogrão
Indigenous groups protesting the construction of Ferrogrão in April. Photo: Fernando Souza/Fotoarena/Folhapress

Amid the myriad threats to the Amazon rainforest, from eye-watering deforestation levels to violent land conflicts, the construction of a railway cleaving the region in two is one of the greatest concerns for Amazonian indigenous communities.

The Jair Bolsonaro government has lauded the EF-170 railway (commonly known as the Ferrogrão, or “grain railway”) as a crucial new option for the transport of agricultural produce from the major grain-producing state of Mato Grosso all the way to the northern ports of Santarém and Barcarena.

Budgeted at BRL 21.5 billion (USD 4.12 billion), the Ferrogrão is among the priorities of the...

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