Brazil to deploy army to fight Amazon deforestation

Brazil to deploy army to fight Amazon deforestation”

Between January and April, destruction of the forest by illegal loggers and ranchers rose 55 per cent, or a total of 1,202 sq km was wiped out, it said.

The Lancet said Bolsonaro was becoming increasingly hamstrung by political crisis following his sacking last month of popular Minister of Health Luiz Henrique Mandetta after a disagreement over measures to tackle the pandemic and the resignation of Minister of Justice Sergio Moro.

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) - Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro authorized the army Thursday to fight Amazon wildfires and deforestation, amid warnings the world's biggest rainforest is disappearing even faster than during record devastation a year ago.

That loss - almost the size of Lebanon - fueled worldwide alarm over the future of the rainforest, seen as vital to curbing climate change.

The country is preparing to send in the military groups as the deforestation has been caused by illegal logging and mining. "In the past, when we see deforestation increase in the beginning of the year, it's an indicator that when deforestation season starts. you're going to see an increase, as well".

He issued a decree Thursday authorizing the army to fight wildfires and oversee environmental agencies' work from May 11 to June 10 this year.

He also deployed the army past year, after facing scathing global criticism for downplaying the fires.

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Environmentalists responded that it would be better to increase staffing and budgets for the environmental agencies.

In an editorial, the Lancet said his disregard for and flouting of lockdown measures is sowing confusion across Brazil, which is now recording record numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths, and is fast emerging as one of the world's coronavirus hot spots.

Hospitals are almost out of intensive care beds in the hardest-hit areas, including Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Manaus, the biggest city in the Amazon region, which has had to turn to refrigerator trucks and mass graves to cope with the number of dead.

With attention, resources and lives taken away by the virus, the fear is that officials, environmentalists and inhabitants could have less capacity to protect the forest.

The mayor of the state capital, Manaus, Arthur Virgilio, drew a link between the two tragedies this week in an appeal for help from world leaders. "He needs to drastically change course or must be the next to go", the editorial by the British medical journal said.

It is unclear whether the pandemic will have an impact on deforestation, but the fact that they have surged in tandem in Brazil is cause for concern.

Brazil's Economy Minister is warning of potential economic collapse and social unrest if the country remains locked down for another 30 days because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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