Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday enacted a sweeping 120-day ban on unauthorized outdoor fires as the country suffered the worst drought in decades before the annual burning season in the Amazon rainforest.
Bolsonaro changed the army on Monday to stop deforestation of the world’s largest rainforest.
Both steps repeat the measures Bolsonaro has implemented annually since 2019 in response to international outrage that Brazil is not doing enough to stop the destruction of the important bastion of climate change.
So far, none of the measures have been effective in reducing deforestation or forest fires. Typically, criminals cut the valuable wood first and then set the area on fire to clear it for future agricultural use in speculative land grabbing.
Deforestation in the Amazon has accelerated under Bolsonaro, reaching a 12-year high in 2020 when an area seven times that of London was reduced, according to the national space research agency Inpe. Last year, the region also recorded the highest number of fires since 2017, Inpe data shows.
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Preliminary data from Inpe shows that deforestation increased 25% more in the first five months of 2021 compared to the previous year.
Scientists warn that the fire risk is higher this year due to extreme drought, as many parts of the Amazon experience drier weather than last year.
Between September and May, hydroelectric plants across the country registered the lowest water inflows in 91 years, according to the Ministry of Mines and Energy.
“To make matters worse, this is a year affected by La Niña, which is making it particularly arid in the southern Amazon, which widens the window of deforestation and burning,” the Environmental Research Institute of the La Niña said in a statement. Amazonia (IPAM), a non-profit organization.
The fire season, which typically peaks in August and September, is starting to pick up speed, with 23 major fires recorded so far this year, according to Matt Finer, who leads a fire-tracking project for the nonprofit organization. for-profit Amazon Conservation. All of the fires occurred in the state of Mato Grosso on the southeastern edge of the Amazon, Finer said.
Bolsonaro enacted this year’s fire ban in a decree published in the official government gazette on Tuesday. The decree on the transfer of the military was published on Monday night.
This military operation will be much more focused than previous operations, which were limited to 26 communities in four states: Amazonas, Mato Grosso, Pará and Rondônia. The last mission in the past, which ended in April, was for the entire Amazon region.
Bolsonaro approved the current deployment until the end of August.