Destruction of Amazon rainforest continues unchecked

By Denis Duettmann (dpa)

HAVANA TIMES – A fire ban, soldiers and the pandemic have not stopped the destruction of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, the Germany-based NGO Society for Threatened Peoples said on Friday, as the South American country prepared to mark the Day of the Amazonas.

About 1,000 fires were recorded in the Brazilian Amazon in early September, following nearly 30,000 fires in August, according to the country’s National Institute for Space Research (Inpe).

President Jair Bolsonaro’s government prohibited fires for 120 days in mid-July and sent soldiers to the Amazon to enforce the order. But environmentalists accuse the president of not taking this seriously, in order to develop new areas for agriculture.

“Slash-and-burn farming is currently officially banned, but it goes on unchecked,” said Juliana Miyazaki from the Society for Threatened Peoples.

“The environmental authorities have been disempowered, police have hardly any control and violations have no consequences,” she added.

Miyazaki said the fires were mostly started illegally to clear land for farming and agribusiness activities in the region, which plays a key role in the fight against climate change.

Brazil marks the Day of the Amazonas on Saturday.

The Amazon rainforest is also under threat in other countries, including Colombia, where armed groups chase rangers out of protected areas, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said.

Ten protected areas have been left without state protection, according to the statement.

“Illegal timber trade, mining and land grabbing are attractive opportunities for these criminal organizations to finance themselves,” said Julia Gorricho from the WWF’s German branch.

Deforestation in Colombia increased by a third in the first four months of this year, compared to the same period in 2019, according to WWF.