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For the Caiçaras, environmental laws in Brazil at odds with tradition

25 / 04 / 2018, Mongabaycom News

UBATUBA, Brazil – A strip of land in southeast Brazil that straddles the space between the mountain range of Serra do Mar and the Atlantic Ocean  is arguably one of the most beautiful places in the country. Covered by exuberant Atlantic Forest, the area is also a hotspot for biodiversity. To demonstrate it, locals often leave small pieces of papaya or watermelon in plates hanging from trees. It doesn’t take long before colorful birds show up. About half of all bird types in Brazil are found in the Atlantic Forest, accounting for almost 900 species. Parallel to the coast and the mountain range, , the BR-101 roadway leaves magnificent beaches on one side and thick, dense vegetation on the other. In this scenario of sea and forest, an early mix of European settlers, Africans slaves and indigenous people gave place to a population known as the Caiçaras, who until recently lived here in relative isolation, subsisting on fishing and farming. Things started to change in the 1970’s with the opening of the BR-101, which paved the way for the arrival of mass tourism and real estate speculators. During the early days, many Caiçaras were expelled from their lands or forced to sell them on the cheap. Since then, the human impact on the region has rapidly increased, and in the last decades new regulations have been created to protect the region’s impressive biodiversity. However, the creation of these new protected areas did not take into account the particularities of the…

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