Approaches to Managing Development
on the National and Continental Scale
to Reduce Conservation Impacts
Eliezer Batista da Silva
Gustavo A. B. da Fonseca
Amy B. Rosenfeld
Every major extractive industry, be it mining, oil development, or timber extraction, has one thing in common: The construction of major infrastructure, including roads, buildings, and energy sources, is always an important component of each project. Because this infrastructure can reach far beyond the boundaries of a specific project site, both in terms of distance and impact, proper siting and design is vital for ensuring biodiversity conservation. Even when not connected to a specific project, large-scale infrastructure development itself—particularly long-haul transportation, telecommunications, and energy projects—has the potential for extensive impacts on the surrounding environment, spanning across several cities, provinces, or even countries.
The creation and improvement of local, national, or regional infrastructural systems can promote economic development by facilitating the movement of people, goods, services, and ideas within nations, between neighboring countries, and to the rest of the world. At the same time, however, the negative environmental and social impacts of these projects can be equally far-reaching. Major transportation projects such as roads and railways cause direct impacts from construction, including siltation of streams and rivers, deforestation, air pollution, and bisection of parks, preserves, and habitats. These direct impacts are often followed by the potentially even more destructive indirect effects of both planned and spontaneous colonization, including land speculation, unsustainable agriculture, cattle ranching, and continued deforestation (Fearnside 1984). The same impacts