In the early 1900s, a team of geologists, soil scientists and engineers worked to discover the secrets of the North American continent. Caught in the crosshairs were two particular sites:ophernacreek on Yanano Island (which later became Asbestosucaise) and lagoa do Santa Maria on Colarad River. The site lies within National Park Service boundaries, but it’s also part of the new “Santos Bogota” area set for urbanization and development. Both these areas are part of an effort to make them more accessible to the general public. But what is a sensitive site? Is Asbestosucaise sacred? And who owns it? That confusion has left many residents confused and frustrated. This article lists all things you need to know about Asbestosucaise — plus some answers you might not already know.
What is Asbestosucaise?
Asbestosuanaise is a 6,913-ft. sheer cliff on the city’s southern border. It’s one of the most significant architectural features of Rio de Janeiro and is also known as the “Periféram.” It’s at the center of one of the city’s most majestic areas — Santo Adágime. The “Sao Adágime” is one of Rio’s most colorful and popular areas, with beaches, tropical forests, waterfalls and a bustling hotel-condominium complex. The site is also easily accessible via a twisting dirt road that winds up toward the city’s skyline.
How does it happen?
The dramatic cliffs are known for their beauty and, in the recent past, for being home to one of the city’s most powerful geological formations, the gushing red sandstone. But these walls have been under threat for a long time, and the project to build the boulevards would have made the cliffs one of the first targets. It began as an old man’s desire to get his own back from those who had taken over his place on the island. Over time, construction workers from nearby cities found the job too difficult and the cliffs too exposed. Then, around the turn of the century, natural processes, including erosion and the flow of water from the nearby city of Recife, pushed the cliffs into the open. That same year, the coffee industry, which relies on the cliffs for much of its income, began to grow. The industry now has a huge presence in the cliffs and throughout the surrounding area, as people increasingly turn to its products as they enjoy a more peaceful life.
What can be done about it?
In the end, workers from nearby cities — including several from Rio — were able to force the field straightened, and the cliffs were protected as an Important Land Use. The old man’s estate, now the city’s Museum of the Human Experience, is located just below the cliffs. The city of Rio, which owns the land, is responsible for maintaining the rocks (which come with a $300,000 annual fee) and paying for their upkeep. And, in a rare act of defiance, the city has also created a “Green Zona” in the area around the cliffs. The zone includes forests, parks, wetlands and other green space. Any development that uses the parks, streets or other green space must approve of its size and placement.
Why is it happening here?
The main reason the Asbestosucaise cliffs are so important to Rio de Janeiro is its rich history. The city has played an important part in the development of the world’s tea and cocoa industries, and as such, these rocks have been a major source of revenue for the city. The cliffs are also a source of legend. Many tourist attractions in Rio de Janeiro feature incredible videos and picturesque views of the cliffs from the city’s downtown area. There’s even a popular restaurant, The Lookout, that’s been serving up delicious Rio-themed meals for years. However, industrial development has been a major factor in creating the new “Santos Bogota” area. In fact, the most significant architectural feature of this new section is the high-rise hotel, now called the “Sao Adágime.” The hotel sits above the cliff and contains the city’s most valuable archaeological finds — the remains of the city’s first permanent population.
Is there anything we can do about it?
Nothing is set in stone at this point, but the city of Rio has committed to addressing the concerns of the local residents. In June, the city of Rio agreed to pay $100,000 to a local man who was concerned about the health and safety of his family during the construction of the boulevards. The man, now age 84, claims that building workers regularly inhaled toxic dust from the roof of the hotel — and that it was harmful to his health. In July, a private foundation, together with the city of Rio, agreed to fund a study into the health effects of the cliffs. The aim of the study is to establish the “causality” between the dust from the boulevards and the health effects of the rocks. The foundation hopes to have the results of that study published within a year.