Brazil’s Green Book of Defense: the Armed Forces Protecting the Environment
By Nelza Oliveira/Diálogo July 26, 2017On June 2nd, the Ministry of Defense published “Defense and the Environment: Training with Sustainability,” also known as The Green Book of Defense, on the best practices for environmental management that the Brazilian Armed Forces (Army, Navy, and Air Force) use in their military areas and activities. The Green Book also contains information on their operations combatting environmental crimes. “The Brazilian Armed Forces are the institutions that do the most to protect, preserve, and restore the nation's natural environment. We are defending our practices. Those who pass through the Brazilian Armed Forces learn to care for, and about the environment,” said Brazil's Minister of Defense Raul Jungmann at the book launch ceremony. In the places used as military facilities or training camps, the Brazilian Armed Forces balance national security with the conservation of the ecosystems. “I believe that these military areas are being well protected, be it through the security provided by our military personnel or be it mainly through the zeal and care that our service members show for public resources, including environmental resources,” stated Brazilian Army Lieutenant General Elias Rodrigues Martins Filho, from the Strategic Affairs Command of the Ministry of Defense. “The military's presence is well respected by Brazilian society, even by those who risk committing environmental crimes.” Millions of hectares protected The Brazilian Air Force (FAB, per its Portuguese acronym) is responsible for Serra do Cachimbo in the southern part of the state of Pará, a 22,000-square kilometer green space equal in size to the state of Sergipe. Brigadeiro Velloso Proving Ground is maintained at that location, which is home simultaneously to military training and periodic flyovers by FAB for detecting and suppressing deforestation in the area. There, FAB is also promoting the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources’ efforts to reintegrate various species of Brazilian fauna rescued from illegal poaching back into the environment. At Anápolis Air Base in the state of Goiás, FAB is continuing with the Erosion Control and Reforestation with Native and Exotic Species (CERNE, per its Portuguese acronym) Project, which has already planted 16,000 seedlings and recovered nearly 168 hectares. The first plantings started in 2007. “The project was born from the observation that soil was being removed for construction in the built-up areas of Anápolis Air Base and also in the areas around the airport, the runways and landing strips, the hangars, and the parking area,” said Senior Airman Lucas Abadia (FAB), an environmental engineer and coordinator of the CERNE Project. “The main objective that folks have been able to realize over these last 10 years has been to restore the environment to its natural balance, which was being lost during the construction years, mainly due to the aviation piece. But nowadays, people rely on the environment as a partner as well.” The planting of seedlings was also done by FAB on Santa Maria Air Base in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, and at the Air Force Academy in Pirassununga, in the state of São Paulo. The Brazilian Navy (MB, per its Portuguese acronym) has supported environmental protection on Marambaia Island in Rio de Janeiro since 1906 when the Seaman Apprentice School was established. In the 1980s, MB also set up its Marambaia Island Training Center there. Environmental protection on the island, according to the Green Book of Defense, is a guarantor of the ecological preservation of 95 percent of the vast area of coastal Atlantic Forest, which is the reason why the island is visited by students and researchers in fields such as botany, ecology, zoology, archeology, climatology, and geoprocessing in their search for species that are common to the reef, many of which are going extinct in other parts of the Brazilian coast. MB is also present in protecting the Alcatrazes Archipelago in São Sebastião in the state of São Paulo, where it promotes comprehensive actions that include supervision, safe navigation, protecting lives at sea, and enforcing the prohibition against anchoring vessels or diving around the archipelago. Commitment to the environment Like the Navy, the Brazilian Army (EB, per its Portuguese acronym) also has a presence on Marambaia Island in Rio de Janeiro, occupying an area of nearly 34 square kilometers where the Army Technology Center and the Army Evaluation Center operate. For the past 200 years, EB has protected the flora and fauna common to the plains of the Pampas in an area covering more than 50,000 hectares in the state of Rio Grande do Sul whereBarão de São Borja Training Camp operates. At Formosa Training Camp in the state of Goiás, EB is taking part in a study of a 15,000-hectare area to find solutions to the natural erosion there, in addition to doing scientific research to identify medium- and large-sized mammal species. In Recife, in the state of Pernambuco, EB is responsible for protecting the environment at its Curado Military Complex, the headquarters of the Northeastern Military Command and six other military organizations. Pernambuco is also home to Guararapes Historical National Park, which was restored by the Army command in order to recover and preserve the natural features in that area. This national park is considered EB's birthplace, as it was the site of the first battle of EB's land troops in 1648, an episode known as the “Battle of Guararapes.” “The Brazilian Armed Forces have a tradition of protecting the biomass and green spaces in a continent-sized nation like Brazil. And this is also done through a broad structure of garrisons, bases, and training camps – some of which are centuries old – which contribute to the protection of all of our national resources,” EB confirmed for Diálogo through its press office. “One example of this historical commitment is Decree 14.273 of July 28, 1920, which approved the regulation of Gericinó Training Center in Rio de Janeiro. Article 6 of the decree states that “the cutting of trees by troops in these forests or in Serra de Gericinó is strictly prohibited. The camp administration shall establish guidelines for using the forests [...] in order to prevent general landslides that may harm the yield of the native waters. Any tree that is knocked down must be replaced by another,” the press office note continued. In Manaus, in the state of Amazonas, the Jungle Warfare Training Center created by EB more than 50 years ago, occupies an area of more than 150,000 hectares and trained service members since 1960. At the center, there is a refuge for rescued animals that cannot be returned to the wild. In all, 400 animals live there. In 2014, the refuge received an Amazon Aquarium with more than 200 animals and a Learning Center, a space for educational and conservation activities. During the launch of the Green Book, Minister Jungmann announced that he would send an inter-ministerial statement of purpose to the Office of the President to create a category of military areas to be given special environmental protection. “That will make it possible for those areas to receive greater protection. Today there are many pressures on the areas protected by the Brazilian Armed Forces. This measure will strengthen their legal certainty because, by looking after those areas, we are looking after ourselves as well. Furthermore, it will greatly expand the roster of protected areas, bringing them all together as one,” the minister concluded.