Agribusiness interests push record deforestation, contributing to fire activity that has not been seen in years.
Increased illegal deforestation has led to the worst fire season in the Brazilian Amazon jungle in nearly five years.
Brazil’s national space agency reports that as the rainforest enters its peak fire season, satellites have spotted more than 33,000 flames. This is a common indicator of widespread deforestation.
There is an alarming rate of forest loss. According to Ane Alencar, coordinator of the Mapbiomas Fire project, “it suggests there are many fallen trees ready to fire.” This year’s fire season is expected to reach a new peak in September.
Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, has come under fire for allegedly taking a sympathetic view of illicit deforestation and failing to take action to stop it. Environmental land defenders and Indigenous groups have suffered violence and suppression for trying to stop the fires, which are typically set by groups clearing space for cattle to graze.
Despite the worst August for fires in the Amazon in 12 years, Bolsonaro has dismissed the concerns, promoting commercial activity in the region and implying that the voices of concern are part of a larger plot to damage Brazil’s farming sector.
Bolsonaro, who is running for reelection, stated, “Brazil does not deserve to be assaulted in this way.”
To quote one of our leaders: “None of those attacking us have the right. He tweeted earlier this month that people in other countries should have protected their own forests if they desired a beautiful place to call home.
The Brazilian think tank Igarape Institute released a paper claiming that Amazon deforestation is largely unchecked by government officials.
Only 2% of the 302 environmental crime raids conducted by the federal police in the Amazon between 2016 and 2021 focused on persons illegally grabbing undesignated public properties, according to the report.
According to Alencar, the quick spread of fires in August began after an unusually wet start to the month. Smoke from the fires can linger over Amazonian cities like Manaus, the region’s largest metropolis, for weeks at a time.
In the Amazon, fresh deforestation accounts for about 20% of the burned area this year. NASA’s Global Fire Emissions Database was used in an analysis by a Brazilian non-profit, the Center of Life Institute, to determine that some of the damage is occurring in protected regions that are actually being targeted by land-grabbers.
For instance, after a state court in Mato Grosso overturned the park’s protected status, deforesters were free to wreak havoc in Cristalino II State Park. The Center for Life Investigations reports that in the last few weeks, fires have burned across 15 square miles (40 square kilometers), notwithstanding the state’s appeal of the verdict.
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About half of Brazil’s carbon emissions come from land use change. Some of the Amazon’s most vital carbon-absorbing ecosystems are being destroyed by the fires.
Despite Bolsonaro’s pledge at the COP26 climate meeting to eliminate illicit deforestation by 2028, forest loss has surged to a 15-year high.
Alencar argued that halting deforestation in Brazil was vital if the country was serious about cutting back on carbon emissions. The second is to utilize less fire, as the author puts it.
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