According to data revealed by the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe), the Brazilian Amazon registered 2,308 fire outbreaks in June, its worst figure since 2007, with 3,519. If this index is compared with the June 2020 burns, which also set a record at the time, the increase was 2.6%.
The Brazilian Amazon once again had a new record for fires. The National Institute for Space Research, Inpe, recorded a 2.7% increase in fire points compared to the same month last year, representing 2,308 fires. It is the most in 14 years.
The data worries the experts, who warn that the record comes only at the beginning of the summer season in the Amazon and they fear not only that the worst is yet to come, but that this year it will arrive loaded with damages to one of the areas most important greens on the planet.
Matt Finer, leader of a fire monitoring project for Amazon Observation, warns that “the fire season, which generally peaks in August and September, is beginning to accelerate, with 23 major fires recorded so far in the past. year. All the fires have occurred in the state of Mato Grosso, on the southeastern edge of the Amazon, “he reported.
The causes behind the increase in fires in the Brazilian Amazon
President Jair Bolsonaro and his policies are the target of criticism due to the increase in fires and deforestation in the Amazon. Since coming to power in 2019, he has been accused of removing environmental protection regulations and evicting indigenous peoples from their lands. Only in 2020 “(in the jungle) an area was reduced seven times the size of London”, warns the Inpe.
In addition, government documents and people close to the president have accused the president of manipulating the fine system, which serves to punish illegal loggers.
The extreme drought that promises to threaten the country also has an influence on forest fires. In fact, the Ministry of Mines and Energy reported that between September and May, Brazil’s hydroelectric plants had the lowest water revenues in 91 years.
Finally, the non-profit organization Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM) said in a statement that “to make matters worse, this is a year affected by the phenomenon of the girl, which especially causes the southern Amazon to dry out, which widens the window of deforestation and burning. ”
Bolsonaro suspended the fires in this region for a period of 120 days
In response to pressure from the international community, the Bolsonaro government published a decree on Tuesday suspending fires in the Amazon for 120 days. In addition, I am sending the Armed Forces of the country to guard the jungle to prevent further fires, an action that has already been carried out in previous years and that has not stopped the constant increase in conflagrations.
According to the NGO Greenpeace, the decree makes it easier for criminals to act, since it warns about the places where the military will carry out the control tasks.
“Unfortunately, that record in June is not a surprise, considering the continuity of environmental policy and the insistence on the use of an expensive tool with the dispatch of military troops, which has proven to be ineffective in the last two years. “Greenpeace denounced in a statement.
For this reason, this organization has warned that both the projects that promote deforestation and the exploitation of indigenous lands are now an important part of the agenda in Congress.
Environmental organizations have questioned these policies and many have assured that “the plan failed incontestably.” This is attributed to the fact that the military now carry out some of the activities that previously belonged to the prosecutors of the Brazilian Environment Institute (Ibama), but for budgetary reasons, they no longer do so.
Still, the president of Brazil defends his measures. In recent years, the president has relaxed the penalties for those who attack the environment, who are usually actors who carry out illegal mining or logging and marketing of timber.
It should be noted that these policies were proposed by Ricardo Salles, who was Bolsonaro’s Minister of the Environment until June 23, when he was forced to resign for allegedly benefiting illegal loggers.
Accumulated more than 17,000 fines for actions that attack the Amazon
For environmental defenders, the fact that Bolsonaro has postponed the fines reflects his intention to weaken environmental agencies. It has reduced the budget derived from them, has relaxed the penalties for illegal loggers and miners and has maintained the freeze on hiring.
Both Bolsonaro’s critics and environmental agency workers fear that more people will join in the destruction of the Amazon and that the culprits will evade the payment of fines should the statute of limitations expire.
For his part, the president of the United States, Joe Biden, has said that he is willing to help finance the preservation of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, as long as the Government of this country commits to it.
The Amazon is the largest tropical forest in the world and fulfills essential functions on the planet. It produces 20% of oxygen, regulates planetary systems and helps protect countries facing climate change. The destruction of this ecosystem could accelerate the extinction of thousands of species that inhabit it, as well as undermine the fight against extreme poverty.
So far this year, deforestation in the Amazon has increased by 25%. Environmental organizations fear that the numbers will rise even more in the coming months. Normally, the drought intensifies in Brazil in August and September, which is why the situation is worrying.