Dramatic images fuel fears Amazon fires are worse than last year | Environment


New dramatic images have shown fires raging in large areas of the Brazilian Amazon nearly a year after fires in the region sparked an international crisis for the far-right government of President Jair Bolsonaro.The video footage and photographs were filmed during a Greenpeace flight over a large area of ​​forest in the southern Amazon state of Mato Grosso on July 9. Filmed just at the start of the dry season in the Amazon, they raise concerns that this year’s fires are just as devastating and possibly worse than those of 2019.

“It was shocking to see the scale of this deforestation and fires, at a time when the government is dismantling environmental protection,” said Rômulo Batista, Amazon campaign manager for Greenpeace, who spent days to fly over a large area. “It is the start of the dry season and we have seen fires and areas in preparation for deforestation.”

Some images showed hot spots in areas close to the towns of Nova Canaã do Norte, Porto dos Gaúchos, Itanhangá and Nova Maringá as well as areas recently converted to pasture – the main cause of deforestation in the Amazon. Other photos showed felled trees piled up to be burned and fires raging near Juara, known as the capital of cattle.

Greenpeace captured photos and videos of fires during a flight over the state of Mato Grosso. Photography: Christian Braga / Greenpeace

Farmers traditionally burn cleared areas in the Amazon during the dry season. The number of fires last year was the highest since 2010.

“They chopped down the forest and left it to dry in the sun. When it’s dry, they put it all together and set it on fire, ”Batista said. The land is then given over to animal husbandry or agriculture. But Batista also saw signs that the fire was being used to clear the forest once the precious woods were removed. The images show fires in an intact forest near Alta Floresta. “We are seeing more and more use of fire for deforestation,” said Batista.

Bolsonaro’s government, meanwhile, dismantled environmental protection agencies the dismissal of key officials and the reduction in the amount of fines imposed for environmental crimes by the environmental agency IBAMA last year to the lowest level in 24 years, the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo reported. Last year, he sacked the director of the Brazilian Space Research Institute after calling official figures showing increasing deforestation “lies”.

However, he promised to fight the fires. On Thursday, Bolsonaro banned farm and forest fires for 120 days. Its vice-president, Hamilton Mourão, is in charge of the country’s Amazonian council and a military operation called Green Brazil launched on May 11, which for the second year in a row targets illegal deforestation and fires.


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