6 May

From Japan to the Amazon: the floating factory brought to the jungle

The historicity of human societies has been evidenced by the constant domains imposed on nature, the Brazilian Amazon is an example of such events. The advancement of technology, the search for capital and the transformation of human civilization in modern technological civilization are aspects evidence the Amazon, such as core investments from around the world, mainly from developed countries.

One of these investments is about the Jari Project, a gigantic undertaking aimed at cellulose production, designed by U.S. tycoon Daniel Keith Ludwig. The project was evident throughout the world, being part of a bold American billionaire Ludwig in the middle of 60s.

The process of occupation of the area corresponding to the Jari Project dates back since the year 1882, the year that José Julio de Andrade, an immigrant from Ceará state, takes up residence in the city of Almerim in the state of Pará and over the years becomes a great extraction of the region, and undertake such activities in Mazagão(current city in the state of Amapá). A little occupancy of that space was one of the factors that led to José Julio to take over a length of approximately one million six hundred thousand hectares (16.000 Km²) with the reference point, river flow and mobility, the Jari River.


The Jari River and the cellulose factory

Extractive activities developed by José Julio reached significant proportions, which came to build a company based in the marketing of products such as Brazil nut and rubber extracted from rubber trees. In 1948, about to die, sold the territory to a group of Portuguese merchants and a Brazilian, who went on the actions carried out there, being responsible for managing the company generated by them,called JariIndústria e Comércio (Jari Trade and Industry) S / A.

And since 1967 the area belonging to JariIndústria e ComércioS/A was sold with permission from the Brazilian Military Government for just $ 3 million to Daniel Ludwig. The lands are located on the border (the Jari River) between the states of Pará and Amapá, and proximity to the capital of Belém do Pará and had access to the Atlantic Ocean, the space acquired a total areas with similar dimensions to Belgium and the state of Sergipe in Brazil. The primary cause of the second purchase of the area was Ludwig, because it believed that the “literacy of the miserable of the third world would lead to a sharp rise in demand for paper “which meant a profit without equal. This factor would be only one of the reasons why the entrepreneur acquired the area, others are concerned with the openness and ease of purchase of the area imposed by the Brazilian Military Government to Daniel Keith. That meant a mutual exchange between them. For the Government of the Dictatorship, the installation of the factory would leverage the Brazilian economy, since Daniel Keith did not need state support, while for the purchase of Ludwig hectares with an average of two dollars per hectare, would be a vast territory to explore and strengthen his capital.

Considering the potential future use of cellulose, according to his economic informers, reach its peak in 1985. The tycoon was rushed to think what kind of tree would use for the large scale planting, as the native vegetation of the area was not sufficient to meet the possible demand for cellulose. Then he had the technical support of biologists and agronomists specialized in analysis of tropical crops and sent them to Africa, Asia and South America showing no significant delay, a Dutch botanist Ludwig team member in Nigeria found a species from Asia that had determining characteristics for cultivation, Gmelina arborea. The “green gold” of Ludwig was characterized by having strength and durability, and grow at a rapid scale, about 30 cm each month, which would allow cuts in periods of six years. Studies related to species adaptation to different climates and soils were carried out in countries, Ludwig had great belief in its researchers and thereby authorized the planting of gmelina, even though some environmentalists they felt in different ways from their researchers of gmelina adaptation on the Amazon ecosystem.

The choice had already been done, now it was necessary to prepare the territory for the subsequent planting of trees. The planning of area for the monoculture was around 160,000 hectares, the withdraw of native forest was made by 18 tractors, a sector of the vegetation was used for construction of communal houses in the town of Monte Dourado (subject will be discussed later in the text), however, the rest who added the most of the trees were stacked and burned. After deforestation was found that the humus layer of soil had been removed as well, so the ground was reserved for the poor crop, preventing the planting of gmelina. The alternative was to cut down more areas manually with the use of chainsaws, which increase the costs of the project.


Aerial view of the cellulose factory

The gmelina trees finally been planted, but others were perceived barriers: the difficult adaptation of species to the sandy soil of the Jari region, since the gmelina grew apace in granitic or limestone soils, technicians built a dike height of 10 cm to control the water from the wetland ecosystem of Jari and so start the crop. Another obstacle was detected, it was realized that the soil was poor in sulphureous, the problem was solved with the use of sulphate of ammonia in it, with this measure the percentage of the harvest would likely use a 250% increase.

The numerical positive results have proporsed opening more areas to planting, but this time the visionary Ludwig, had the desire to invest in livestock, except that this one did not think that hiding their possession a huge reserve of kaolin (a type of clay noble used in manufacturing medicines, printing on paper, ceramics, among others), one of the largest on the planet. Kaolin (china clay) found in future to serve the bleaching of paper, which necessitated the construction of building a factory to work with the processing of raw materials.

The time of harvesting gmelina approached Daniel Keith then bought a huge processing cellulose factory, which was mounted on platforms established in shipyards in the city of Kure, Japan. Twenty Japanese teams, other European and American participated in the assembly of structures. After mounting the platforms were transported by river to the circumscribed region near the Jari River. The factory consisted of two platforms, the dimensions of each being 240m x 50m, with a building height of approximately twenty floors with an area equivalent to two and a half soccer fields. In one was a cellulose processing factory, with production capacity of 220 tons of bleached cellulose per year. The second platform housed a steam power plant, responsible for operating the first, this provision was to generate 55 megawatts of electricity.


One of the platforms of the Jari Project

In 1978 during 53 days the two platforms sailed 25,000 km to the city of Munguba in Pará, a distance equivalent to half the circumference of the globe. Its arrival demanded of workers, exhaustive days of work depending on the accommodation decks, so tiring that a worker of the project ended up dying.

The project at that time was ready to run, but one fact was understood, the plantations of Gmelina arborea were having results below expectations by Ludwig. The businessman ordered again the deforestationof Amazon trees, but this time they would be mixed with gmelina in order to reach the peak of maximum utilization of the factory.

In this context an entire support infrastructure that previously did not exist at the place was built as roads, railways, ports and even a city known Monte Dourado, designed by engineer Rodolfo Dourado for offering incentives relevant to house workers on the workforce low cost, these migrants from Brazil, living in a place closer to the factory, would reduce the cost of Ludwig with manpower imported. The impact brought by the Project Jari assumed considerable proportions that promoted the rise of cities and outlying informal as: Beiradão and Beiradinho which did not have and still do not have adequate basic infrastructure, they are characterized by a mass of slum dwellings stilts.

Over it was seen that the exorbitant costs generated by the Project Jari Daniel Ludwig were higher than expected profits. Added to this important factor, the intervention of the Brazilian government when the area of ​​devastation and loss of local biodiversity has become extremely noticeable. In 1980, an expedition of Brazilian troops landed on the Jari factory, with the purpose to prevent the deforestationof more trees, those that were found in a region that exceeded the limits of project, thereby exacerbating the disharmony of views of the Brazilian State and American businessman.

The situation reached such an extent that in 1981, when Daniel Keith Ludwig officially abandoned the Jari Project. He demanded compensation from the then President of Brazil JoãoBaptistaFigueiredo of $ 6 million a year because of social services and infrastructure that applied in the project, if the proposal was not met Ludwig of this lay off all employees belonging to the Brazilian factory. The president did not answer anything at all irritated Keith Daniel, who in 1982 began selling the Jari Project to a consortium of Brazilian merchants for one-third of its real price. The expenses of Ludwig with the Project at that time totaled one billion dollars.

Finally the entrepreneurs who bought the Jari project ended demanding compensation from the Government on the same grounds required by Ludwig. The damages were converged to pay the debts that resulted from the Jari Project. BNDES (National Bank of Economic and Social Development) admitted the expenses from the factory and mill and the Bank of Brazil took to himself another that totaled $ 180 million. A group formed by a private company called CAEMI acquired 40% stake in the Jari then relayed these to the Grupo Orsa in 1997 which is the current owner, took the Jari project with the name change administration Jaricel (Jari Cellulose, Paper and Packaging S/A). Advances in environmental issues mainly related to, the Kyoto Protocol has reshaped the interaction forms of factory with the environment. According to information obtained on the website of Grupo Orsa, actions economically viable, socially just and environmentally sound are guiding the business policy of Jaricel.

The history of deployment of the Jari Project reports the setting of natural elements in space, specifically the business actions of international proportions, installed in the Brazilian Amazon. Their concern arising mainly on issues of intervention and changes in natural landscape from the standpoint of urban social. It was evident from the development of this text that the actions planned for humanity do not always achieve their desired goal, this saga of Brazilian reality confirms the complete dependence of man and nature. The big problem is that this is not always regenerates the damage from human attitudes, this is a major problem, or if not the greatest challenge for us as architects, planners and citizens of a world that cries out for help.


TEIXEIRA, Carlos Moreira. 1968-2008: do Projeto Jari ao Protocolo de Kyoto.





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