Amazon fires: Brazil bans land clearance blazes for 60 days

Prohibition coincides with dry season, when most burning takes place

Jon Sharman
Thursday 29 August 2019 17:49
Brazilian Air Force spray water over Amazon fires

Brazil has banned most legal fires designed to clear land for 60 days, in an attempt to stop the burning that has devastated parts of the Amazon region.

The prohibition was decreed on Thursday following international criticism of Jair Bolsonaro‘s handling of the environmental crisis.

The period covered by the new ban coincides with the region’s dry season, when most fires are usually lit.

Brazil’s forest code allows licensed farmers and others to set some fires.

This year, there was a sharp increase in blazes nationwide, raising fears that people had been emboldened to burn more after Mr Bolsonaro said environmental rules protecting the rainforest were blocking economic development.

The far-right leader recently claimed, without giving evidence, that environmental groups were setting illegal fires to try to destabilise his government.

Mr Bolsonaro has also taken umbrage at the G7 countries’ offer of £16.3m aid to combat the fires raging in the Amazon, which is a vital carbon sink sometimes called the “lungs of the world”.

He said on Wednesday that he would only accept the sum if Emmanuel Macron retracted statements made about him at the recent international summit.

“First of all, Macron has to take back his insults of me. He called me a liar. Once he does that, then we can talk,” Mr Bolsonaro told reporters in Brasilia.

The two presidents have become embroiled in a deeply personal war of words in recent days, including Mr Bolsonaro insulting Mr Macron’s wife on social media. Mr Macron called the comments “extraordinarily rude”.

The number of fires recorded across the Brazilian Amazon has risen 79 per cent this year, according to Brazil’s space research agency.

Additional reporting by AP

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