Illegal fire in the rainforest of the Brazilian state of Pará
Photo: CARL DE SOUZA / AFP
Despite a ban on slash and burn operations and massive military action, the rainforest in the Amazon region is still on fire.
In the first days of September alone, around 1,000 fires were registered in the Brazilian Amazon region, according to data from the Inpe Space Institute.
In August there were almost 30,000 fires.
On Saturday, Brazil celebrates Amazon Day, commemorating the founding of the Amazon province by Prince Pedro II in 1850. It is not a day to celebrate.
"Slash and burn is currently officially banned, but it continues unchecked. The environmental authorities have been disempowered, police authorities hardly control and violations have no consequences," says Juliana Miyazaki of the Society for Threatened Peoples.
"Forest fires are usually triggered by illegal clearing. Deforestation is carried out, the wood dries, then a fire is started. This frees up new areas for economic activities such as agribusiness."
In mid-July, the Brazilian government had actually banned the burning of areas in the Amazon region for 120 days.
Soldiers were sent to the region to monitor the ban.
It is doubtful that the right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro actually wants to curb the deforestation and slash and burn.
The ex-military has repeatedly emphasized that he wanted to use the region more economically in the future.
Even the world's largest free trade area between the EU and the South American economic alliance Mercosur could fail because of the rigid stance in Brazil.
In view of the ongoing deforestation of the rainforest, the signing of the agreement is currently not a good signal, said Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) last.
In France, Ireland and Austria the treaty is viewed critically anyway.
There is also a mood of alarm in other countries in the Amazon basin: In Colombia, armed groups are driving the rangers out of the protected areas, reported the environmental protection organization WWF.
"Illegal timber trade, mining and land grabbing are attractive opportunities for these criminal organizations to finance themselves," said the Colombia expert at WWF, Julia Gorricho.
"Not only will nature suffer from this, but also the local people, especially indigenous people."
Deforestation in Colombia increased by around a third in the first four months of the year compared to the same period in 2019.
Icon: The mirror
ele / dpa