An area as large as the IJsselmeer was cleared in the Amazon rainforest in May alone. It’s about a 41 percent increase compared to last year, reports INPE, the Brazilian space agency, which monitors deforestation using satellites. An increase has also been reported in the past three months.
The figures are very worrying, according to the Brazilian Climate Observatory. He points out that May is the start of the drought season, traditionally also the start of the logging season. If the trend continues, the Climate Observatory expects another record amount of wood to be harvested in 2021.
Already a lot of forest fires
In the world’s largest tropical rainforest, a relatively large number of forest fires have also broken out over the past month. The number of fires has increased in the last month according to the INPE not been that big since 2007 sins.
“The rainy season is already over and it was a bad (dry) season,” said Marcelo Seluchi, meteorologist from INPE. facing the Reuters news agency. “It will probably be a bad wildfire season.”
Little rain fell, especially in the southern rainforest. Experts argue that there isn’t much that can be done to turn a small fire into a large forest fire that is difficult to control afterwards. Illegal logging plays a major role in this: a healthy tropical forest stays humid even after the rainy season, but fewer trees means a drier forest.
Reduce climate policy
The fires in the Amazon are mainly started illegally by farmers, environmentalists say. In this way, the farmers hope to obtain more land. They are not too embarrassed by the government: President Bolsonaro’s government has made drastic cuts in climate policy. The budget of the responsible ministry this year is reduced by 24%. There is also less and less money for supervisors who have to protect the rainforest and can fine farmers.
Police investigate Minister of the Environment
Brazilian Environment Minister Ricardo Salles is involved in two ongoing police investigations. It is associated with the large-scale trade in illegally harvested timber.
An investigation revolves around an incident in December last year when Salles personally approved a record amount of seized timber, even though police determined 65,000 trees had been illegally felled. The then regional police chief was sacked the next day. His successor, with only six months of experience, then dropped the investigation. But this week, it reopened after the Supreme Court ruled on it.
Federal police are also investigating whether Salles made a significant profit by exporting large quantities of illegally harvested timber to Europe and the United States. The focus is on the nearly one million euros that Salles has received in recent years, and suspicious papers. Police carried out searches last month, including in the house of Minister Salles.
The actions of the Bolsonaro government in the Amazon have been criticized since taking office in 2019, due to the massive increase in forest fires and deforestation. Bolsonaro has always defended his policies by saying he wanted to advance the region economically and that parts of the jungle had to give in.
Bolsonaro said this spring that Brazil wants to be energy neutral by 2050 and he pledged a complete end to illegal logging by 2030. It remains to be seen whether his words will turn into action. A day later, the president announced that he reduce environmental policy.