Fires in the Amazon rainforest
Campaign calls for companies to stop sourcing products linked to deforestation.
Fires are still raging across the Amazon and will only be extinguished by the rains starting in October, but already 2019 has become one of the deadliest in recent years for the destruction of the world’s biggest rainforest.
Whilst fires are the norm during the dry season, the number and scale seen this year has been alarmingly abnormal.
There were about 30,000 fire hotspots in the Amazon in August alone, almost triple the 10,421 figure recorded in August 2018.
Researchers in Brazil believe that deforestation in the Amazon is on course to rise by 20–30 per cent this year, and on track to exceed 10,000km² for the first time in more than 10 years.
The fires that are started illegally to clear the forest for crops, cattle and property speculation have increased under the controversial far-right Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, who has weakened environmental protection laws. Brazil’s equally controversial environment minister Ricardo Salles believes that the way to save the rainforest is to ‘monetise’ the Amazon and open it to commercial development. “We want to show that, if investments come, and if we distribute those investments to the people who live there, they will keep the rainforest and not engage in illegal mining or logging,” Salles said in a recent interview with the Financial Times. Richard George, Head of Forests at Greenpeace UK rejected these claims: “Monetising the Amazon would only achieve further devastation, deforestation and danger for the people and wildlife living in the rainforest.”
In the absence of concrete plans from the Brazilian Government to halt the destruction of the Amazon, efforts are now being focussed on exerting economic pressure on president Bolsonaro.
Greenpeace has recently launched a global campaign asking fast-food giants Burger King, KFC and McDonald’s to stop sourcing products, including soya and beef, linked to environmental destruction in the Amazon and across Brazil.
FIND OUT MORE
BBC Radio 4’s Costing the Earth – Fire in the Amazon: bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0008hwy
Fire is used to make way for agriculture in the Amazon rainforest. Below: Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro.