A new bridge has come to symbolise Brazil’s most challenging and urgent issue: balancing the demands of economic development with environmental protection
n the shadow of a giant bridge under construction, waiting in her dented Fiat for a ferry, Jandira Costa has no qualms about development in the Amazon. “We can’t wait for it to open,” she says of the 3.5km-long road over the Amazon’s major tributary, the Rio Negro. Without a bridge, it takes Costa and her family at least half an hour to queue up and cross to the other side. Worse, crossing the river costs up to 100 real (around £37). When the bridge is completed in November, it be quicker, more convenient, and – most importantly for Costa – free.
The bridge – the first on the world’s greatest river system symbolises the surging development at the heart of the world’s largest rainforest and will bring much-needed economic opportunities for those living on the far bank. But environmentalists fear that the bridge, combined with new gas pipelines, roads and rising populations, could open up the rainforest to further destruction.