World

Brazil troops ordered to fight Amazon rainforest destruction

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday authorized deployment of armed forces into the Amazon region to fight fires and deforestation, three months earlier than in 2019, after a jump in destruction in the world's largest rainforest.

Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon in 1st quarter of 2020 rose 51% from a year earlier

In this Nov. 29, 2019, photo, smoke rises from a fire in the Amazon rainforest in Ruropolis, Para state, Brazil. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday authorized deployment of armed forces into the Amazon region to fight fires and deforestation. (Leo Correa/The Associated Press)

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday authorized deployment of armed forces into the Amazon region to fight fires and deforestation, three months earlier than in 2019, after a jump in destruction in the world's largest rainforest.

Last year, Bolsonaro waited until August to send troops into the region, following international outcry over a wave of fires in the rainforest, which traps vast amounts of greenhouse gases that cause climate change.

The current order is effective from May 11 to June 10, but can be extended to 60 days in total, as Bolsonaro did last year.

Vice-President Hamilton Maurao said last week that the government planned to send in the military as part of a plan to establish bases in the Amazon to fight deforestation.

In this August 2019 photo, Krimej Indigenous Chief Kadjyre Kayapo, of the Kayapo Indigenous community, looks out at a path created by loggers on the border between the Biological Reserve Serra do Cachimbo, front, and Menkragnotire Indigenous lands, in Altamira, Para state. (Leo Correa/The Associated Press)

Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon in the first three months of 2020 rose 51 per cent from a year earlier. The first quarter coincides with the rainy season, when destruction usually eases, as loggers are deterred by the weather.

Environmental advocates say the military's presence should deter illegal destruction of the rainforest in the short term, but argue the armed forces cannot replace the permanent oversight of environmental agencies.

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