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6791 - From heroes to villains. The frontier of southwestern Pará struggles between strategies of modernization and public policies for sustainable regional development.

The municipality of Novo Progresso, located in the state of Pará, is a hot spot of the most recent pioneer front discussion in the amazon biome. Since the construction of the BR-163 Cuiabá - Santarém highway by the Brazilian military governments in the beginning of the 1970´s, South-Brazilian migrants have been strongly enforced to incorporate the periphery into the national (and global) economic space. The appearance of these actors created a new space for pioneer dynamics, in particular timber extraction, manual gold mining and cattle ranching. As a result the specific land use strategies caused over the years enormous deforestation rates and numerous conflicts over land entitlements.

Nowadays deforestation no longer seems to be an act of progress and development. The announcement of integrating the BR-163 into a new export corridor of agribusiness, high expansion rates of cattle ranching and missing governance structures within the region, brings the “backbone” for the development in Amazonia into an on-going international discussion on loss of biodiversity and impacts on global climate change. Lately the municipality stands at the centre of public policies embracing the concept of sustainability and supporting regional development strategies to clarify the land title problematic and to assert environmental control and monitoring. Even though deforestation rates are notably lower and the time of heroes is gone, but the need of raising investment to realize alternative projects of regional development is higher than ever before.

Against this background the research focuses on the political-ecological framework, analysing actor constellations and power relations, actor specific rationalities and land use strategies, as well as resulting conflicts and socio-economic transformations.

Keywords: Amazonia, pioneer fronts, land use change, regional conflicts, Political Ecology

Author: Klingler, Michael (Institute of Geography, Austria / Österreich)

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