By Wilson Aquino
he Oceano Verde Research and Development Support Program, which brings scientists from throughout Brazil into the Amazon rainforest to conduct research, is getting a hand from the the country's Army.
Troops from the Amazônia Military Command (CMA, forits Portuguese acronym) will provide structural and logistical support to scientists participating in the project along the 11-kilometer border of Brazil’s Amazon. The CMA will deploy 30 Military units, including Battalions, Companies, Platoons, and Detachments sometime in 2015, though Military and government authorities have not announced a specific launch date.
The commanding officer of the CMA, Army General Guilherme Cals Theophilo de Oliveira, conceived the initiative, which will allow scientists to conduct important research in a region that is challenging to traverse.
Many scientists believe that the flora, fauna, bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms found in the rainforests have enormous potential for use as medications and food, in addition to a variety of industrial products. But the difficulties of moving about within the Amazon and establishing facilities there have often prevented scientists from conducting important research in the world’s most biodiverse region.
Soon, thanks to the support of the Military, “The scientists will be free to conduct their research for the invited institutions,” said Infantry Colonel Luiz Gustavo Couto Costa Evelyn Soares, the project manager.
In addition to providing logistical support, the Army will encourage research on topics that are of interest to the communities residing in the rainforest, such as energy, communications, and potable water. Twenty-four Army Border Platoons, which have a history of supporting scientific researchers, will be available for their assistance.
“Back when they were created, in 1950, the Border Platoons included spaces for third parties [civilians] just for the use of the scientific community,” Col. Evelyn said.
Presentations made to scientists and researchers
The Oceano Verde project has been presented to scientists and representatives of the country's research institutes under the motto “Amazônia: know it to protect it." Gen. De Oliveira explained the initiative to about 60 scientists at the Amazônia National Research Institute (Inpa), an Ministry of Science and Technology agency, on March 18.
“We want researchers to explore their different lines of inquiry with the support of the Border Platoons, in partnership with the Air Force and the Navy, who will provide every logistic support to the scientists, thus leading us all to a greater knowledge of the Amazon,” Gen. De Oliveira said. “We can only defend that which we know, and we can only develop that which we know.”
On April 2, the Institutional Relations Advisor for the Amazônia Military Command, Major General (retired) Franklimberg Ribeiro de Freitas, also brought together scientists to present the program to them at the CMA headquarters. Meetings between CMA and the scientific community will continue until the final project has been put together, which is expected to occur in late May. Gen. De Oliveira will also present the program at the major universities in Brazil.
Goal of improving quality of life
Gen. De Oliveira's bold initiative holds great promise for scientific discovery, Inpa Director Luiz Renato de França said on March 26 during a Rádio Nacional interview in Brasília.
“The general’s initiative is excellent for the entire country. The Amazon is a completely different world than the rest of our planet. The possibilities are enormous; we could achieve many great things. I am extremely excited about this idea.”
The Guidelines for the preparation of the Oceano Verde Research and Development Support Program explain that CMA’s priority is to improve the quality of life and the living conditions for the 25 million inhabitants of the dense Amazon rainforest by creating alternatives to predatory exploration.
“This is the only way they can preserve the rainforest instead of destroying it, because this way they will be proud of its unique natural resources, and this is precisely why the Brazilian Army is joining the nation’s scientific community in an attempt to bridge this knowledge gap and promote sustainable development throughout the region,” the document reads.
Oceano Verde is based on guidelines under the National Defense Strategy with the National Science, Technology, and Innovation Strategy. The initiative aims to become a national point of reference for research and development in the Amazon, always targeting regional sustainable development for indigenous peoples.