Dramatic new images have appeared in Brazil’s extensive areas of the Amazon, almost a year after the blaze, when an international crisis arose for President Jair Bolsonaro’s far-flung government following the blasts across the region.
Video images and photographs were filmed during a flight by Greenpeace over a wide area of forest in the state of Mato Grosso on July 9, south of the Amazon. Filmed as soon as the Amazon dry season began, he feared that this year’s fire could be disastrous and perhaps worse than 2019.
“It was a surprise to see the size of the deforestation and the fire when the government was scrapping environmental protection,” said Greenpeace senior Amazon campaigner Roumulo Batista. “This is the beginning of the dry season and we saw fires and areas being prepared for deforestation.”
Some images showed hotspots in areas near the cities of Nova Canao do Norte, Porto dos Gauchos, Itanhang and Nova Maringa – the biggest cause of deforestation in the Amazon. Other photographs showed that Gir trees were piled up for burning and a fire was erupting near Jura, known as the cattle capital.
Farmers traditionally burn areas cleaned in the Amazon during the dry season. Last year, the number of fires was the highest since 2010.
“They fell down the forest and let it dry under the sun. When it dries they put it together and set it on fire. The land is then converted to animal husbandry or agriculture. But Batista also noticed that once fire was being used to remove the precious wood of the forest. Images show intact forest fires near Alta Floresta. “We are reducing the fire more and more,” Batista said.
Meanwhile, Bolsanaro’s government has demolished environmental protection agencies – Folha de S. Paulo newspaper reported the sacking of key officials, and reducing the penalty amount paid last year by environmental agency IBAMA for environmental offenses to the lowest level of 24 years. Last year he sacked the head of the Brazilian Space Research Institute after calling official figures showing deforestation a “lie”.
However, he has promised to deal with the fire. On Thursday, Bolsonaro banned agriculture and wildfires for 120 days. His vice president, Hamilton Mauro, is in charge of the country’s Amazon Council and on May 11 has launched an army operation called Green Brazil, which is underway in its second year, targeting illegal deforestation and fire.
“We have started sorting out these fires early and we are sure that we will reduce this illegal activity by the second semester of the year,” Moro told the Brazilian Senate on Tuesday. Mato Grosso was one of four regions suffering high deforestation in the north of the state, he said, in the states of Pare and Rondonia and south of the Amazonas state. Mauro’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Greenpeace’s revelations.
But official figures show that the Brazilian government’s efforts so far have failed to yield results. Brazil saw more fires in the Amazon this June than in any year since 2007. Brazil’s space research agency INPE received 2,248 points compared to 1,880 in June last year. Preliminary data showed deforestation from January to June at 3,069 sq km, up 25% from the same period last year.
The Brazilian government is under pressure from international investors and Brazilian companies.
On June 23, international investors managing trillions of dollars in property warned Brazil about deforestation and “disintegration” of policies to protect the environment and indigenous communities. On July 7, CEOs of 39 companies, including Santander, Microsoft, Ambev, Shell and leading banks, expressed concern over the “impact on Brazil’s current negative perception of trade abroad in relation to socio-environmental issues in the Amazon”.
But Moro has said that Brazil needs to regulate the ownership of chaotic land in the Amazon to control deforestation. The government plans to decree allowing 97,000 land titles to be remotely regularized, which environmentalists say reward the land grabbers with legal rights.
In May, more than 40 British companies, including leading supermarkets, wrote to Brazilian MPs to express their concerns over the fire and deforestation – and an earlier version of the same decree. Greenpeace said that British consumers needed to show that they did not agree with the Amazon destruction.
“Those supermarkets will be judged on how they respond to this pressing crisis. They all sell high amounts of industrial meat, much of which is linked to deforestation in forests like the Amazon, ”said Anna Jones, head of forests at Green Jones UK. “It is time that Forrest toppled the Forest Destroyer and replaced industrial meat with plant-based alternatives.”
While Morrow has reached for a more liberal tone, Bolsonaro has doubled the same fiery rhetoric in which last year he accused actor Leonardo DiCaprio of setting him on fire without providing any evidence and publicly with French President Emmanuel Macron Had fallen from During Thursday night’s weekly Facebook Live, he said the attacks on Brazil’s crumbling Amazon security were motivated by commercial rivalry.
“Brazil is an agribusiness power and Europe is an environmental denomination. They didn’t preserve anything,” he said, “and they shoot us the wrong way the whole time. Why? It’s a commercial fight.”