Brazil deforestation rises in August, adding to Amazon fire worries

Brazil deforestation rises in August, adding to Amazon fire worries

Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest rose for the fourth straight month in August from a year earlier, according to preliminary government data released on Friday, adding to concerns over fires already ravaging the region, reports Trend citing to Reuters.

The Brazilian Amazon is facing its worst spate of forest fires since 2010, with news of the destruction of the world’s largest rainforest last month prompting global outcry and worries that it could hurt demand for the country’s exports.

Brazil’s leading meat export industry group and other agribusiness associations on Friday joined with nongovernment organizations (NGOs) to call for an end to deforestation on public lands, demanding government action amid the fires.

“I haven’t seen any contracts being canceled in any sectors. Exports continue, but the red light is flashing,” Marcello Brito, president of the Brazilian Agribusiness Association, told reporters at a briefing.

“If action isn’t taken, if the discourse doesn’t change, if the rhetoric doesn’t change, then things can get worse.”

Environmentalists blame the strong rhetoric of right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro in favor of developing the Amazon for emboldening deforesters and those setting fires.

Bolsonaro has complained that the country does not have the resources to police an area as large as the Amazon. The country is facing a steep budget shortfall as its economy recovers slower than expected from a deep recession.

Brazil’s Environment Minister Ricardo Salles told Reuters in an interview on Friday that the government did not have enough funds to hire more permanent environmental enforcement agents, who are used to combat deforestation and fires.

Instead, the federal government plans to hire state environmental police on their days off to assist in enforcement, he said.

“You have to be creative,” Salles said.

The Group of Seven wealthy nations offered $20 million in aid last week to help fight the fires, but Bolsonaro said he would only accept it if French President Emmanuel Macron withdrew “insults” against him.

Bolsonaro and Macron have been embroiled in a deeply personal and public war of words, with Bolsonaro mocking Macron’s wife and accusing the French leader of disrespecting Brazil’s sovereignty. Macron has called Bolsonaro a liar and said Brazilian women are “probably ashamed” of him.

It remains unclear if Brazil will accept the offer, although the country will take 10 million pounds in aid from the United Kingdom, according to the British embassy in Brasilia.

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