Official data from Brazilian authorities showed a large increase in the number of fires in the Amazon forests in July 2020 compared to the same month last year. According to images from the Brazilian National Space Agency, the area of fires has increased by 28%.
Activists note that President Jair Bolsonaro encourages agricultural and mining activities in the Amazon – this is the main reason for the flaring fires. At the same time, under pressure from international investors, in early July 2020, the government banned artificial fires for mining.
These numbers raise concerns among activists – they worry that the scale of the fires could reach the levels that they recorded in August and September 2019. “This is a terrible sign,” said Ane Alencar, director of the Brazilian Institute for Environmental Research in the Amazon. “We expect the number of fires to only increase in August and September to be even worse.”
According to the Institute’s findings, there is a direct connection between the election of Jair Bolsonaro as president of the country and the forest fires. Their report notes that more and more business in the forest belt goes into the hands of the mafia, and they do not comply with the rules for the exploitation of natural resources. In 2019, after massive fires, the Brazilian authorities took partial measures to combat deforestation, but this year, regulatory authorities are not monitoring compliance with the law.
Alencar added that the forests of the Amazon influence the fight against climate change – the area absorbs huge amounts of carbon from the atmosphere. If humanity loses forests, climate change will accelerate, leading to the destruction of other ecosystems around the planet.