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New president of the Brazilian Congress Environment Commission lies about the Amazon during first speech

Carla Zambelli, Bolsonaro’s ally, endorsed pro-gold digging government discourse

Credit: Marcos Corrêa/PR

30 Mar 21

New president of the Brazilian Congress Environment Commission lies about the Amazon during first speech

In her first live broadcast after assuming the presidency of the Chamber of Deputies Environment Committee, federal congressional representative Carla Zambelli (PSL) lied about the Amazon, attacked NGOs and defended gold digging on indigenous lands, according to a fact check carried out by Zambelli also said that, until the inauguration, she did not know about illegal landgrabbing, one of the priority agendas of her commission. “I think I have little technical thinking, with little knowledge, so I’m still learning”, she said.

Among the untrue statements of the representative is the affirmation, as systematically propagated by the government, that the native peoples of the Amazon are the main responsible for the devastation of the forest.

State governors create coalition to promote partnership with Biden for environmental protection funds

Letter sent to the American President reinforces governors role in the Paris Agreement

Credit: Gage Skidmore/ via CC BY-SA 2.0

19 Mar 21

State governors create coalition to promote partnership with Biden for environmental protection funds

A coalition of 21 Brazilian state governors are drafting a letter to USA President Joe Biden. Their aim is to promote an environmental protection agreement between the countries. In the electoral race, Biden promised to mobilize large investments to preserve the Amazon, of which the group intends to become a beneficiary.

According to the newspaper Valor Econômico, who had access to the draft letter, the initiative “seeks to promote the governors as players that are committed to forest protection, reforestation, and the development of a green economy. Faced with the states’ responsibility to comply with the Paris Agreement, the group wants to create the “largest decarbonization economy on the planet” in partnership with the US. For this, the plans contemplate not only the Amazon, but also other biomes with large carbon stocks, such as the Atlantic Rainforest, the Caatinga and the Pantanal – which had 12% of its area devastated in 2020.

Besides the reduction of greenhouse gases and investment in renewable energy sources, among the points highlighted in the draft letter, are “the fight against deforestation, compliance with the Forest Code for the conservation of forests, improving efficiency in agriculture and cattle ranching, protection of indigenous peoples and the search for ways to enable ‘massive reforestation”, says the article.

Fired by Bolsonaro, former space research director receives award for scientific responsibility

After his exoneration, Ricardo Galvão was nominated as one of the top 10 scientists in the world

Credit: SEESP/via

8 Feb 21

Fired by Bolsonaro, former space research director receives award for scientific responsibility

Ricardo Galvão, former director of Inpe (National Institute for Space Research), exonerated by Bolsonaro in 2019 after reacting to the president’s criticism of the institute’s data indicating increased deforestation, won the international award for Responsibility and Scientific Freedom 2021 of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

The award “honors scientists who have demonstrated scientific freedom and responsibility in particularly challenging circumstances, sometimes at risk to their professional or physical safety,” says the AAAS website. According to Jessica Wyndham, director of the AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program, the physicist “acted to protect the well-being of the Brazilian people and the immense natural wonder that is the Amazon rainforest, a world heritage site.”

Research shows that most Brazilians acknowledges the global warming and is concerned about the environment

Protest in defense of the Amazon in Rio de Janeiro in 2019

Credit: Renan Olivetti/Greenpeace

4 Feb 21

Research shows that most Brazilians acknowledges the global warming and is concerned about the environment

A survey carried out by Ibope, one of the most important research institutes in the country, indicates that most Brazilians recognize the existence of global warming (92%) and attribute it to human action (77%). 72% believe that the phenomenon can harm them and their families, and 88% affirm that it will cause great damage to future generations. The “Climate change in the perception of Brazilians” survey, commissioned by the Institute for Technology and Society (ITS) and Yale University, interviewed 2,600 people over the age of 18 in the five regions of Brazil, between September 24 and October 16, 2020.

The study also reveals that more than half of those interviewed are very concerned about the environment (61%), especially women (68%) and people who identify themselves as being politically in the left (70%). When asked about what would be more important, protecting the environment or promoting economic development, 77% of respondents answered the first option, even if it implies lower growth and job creation. Regarding the fires, which reached record levels in 2020, 77% of the people interviewed attribute the fires in the Amazon to human action, with loggers being pointed out as the main culprits (76%), followed by farmers (49&), cattle ranchers (48%) and gold miners (41%). Indigenous people, pointed out a few days before the beginning of the survey by President Jair Bolsonaro as being responsible for the forest fires, were mentioned by 8% of those interviewed, and NGOs, the target of constant attacks by the government, by 6%.

Amazon deforestation threatens São Paulo’s water supply

According to a scientist, the drought is a result of the systematic destruction of the Amazon

Credit: Lucas Landau/Greenpeace

4 Jan 21

Amazon deforestation threatens São Paulo’s water supply

Since October 2020, the Cantareira System, one of the country’s largest water reservoirs and the main responsible for supplying the metropolitan region of the State of São Paulo, has presented a storage rate of 35.6%, the lowest volume recorded since December 2013, a period that preceded one of the high points of the chronic Brazilian water crisis. According to scientists, the deforestation in the Amazon is linked to the lack of rainfall throughout the year.

This cause-and-effect relationship had already been explained by the National Institute of Space Research (Inpe) with the report “The climatic future of the Amazon” (2014). The study shows that the removal of vegetation can cause the decline of humidity-laden winds that come from the ocean to the continent. Geologist Pedro Côrtes explained the phenomenon. “You destroy trees with long roots and exchange them for grass, with short roots, which does not have the drainage capacity to reach the deep aquifers of the [Amazon region]. The result is a reduction in the atmosphere’s humidity, while the winds continue to blow [to the south], but increasingly dry”.

Côrtes also pointed out that other important reservoirs in the country face the same problem and emphasize that this is a historical problem. “This model of deforestation in the Amazon is 50 years old. It began in the 70s, with the Transamazon highway, and there is no longer justification for its maintenance. There are scientific works from the late 1980s that already warned that it could generate environmental impacts, including a reduction in the volume of rainfall. Today, we are reaping the consequences”, he said.

After record-breaking deforestation rates, Supreme Court summons president and Environment Minister for explanations

Aerial image of the Awa Indigenous Land, in the Amazon Region

Crédito: Victor Moriyama/Greenpeace

28 Dec 20

After record-breaking deforestation rates, Supreme Court summons president and Environment Minister for explanations

Justice Carmen Lúcia, of the Supreme Court, ordered President Jair Bolsonaro and the minister of the Environment Ricardo Salles to provide information about the record-breaking annual deforestation data and the measures adopted by the government to fight it, as reported by the website G1. A lawsuit filed by the Sustainability Network party (Rede), which denounces the failure in the government’s environmental preservation policy and calls for concrete measures, was the responsible for the court’s decision.

In 2020, the Amazon saw record-breaking deforestation. Between August 2019 and July 2020, more than 11,000 km² were devastated, an increase of 9.5% compared to the previous period. The Pantanal was another biome severely affected: more than 10% of its area was ravaged by fires this year.

The situation of the Cerrado biome is also worrying. Between August 2019 and July 2020, there was a 13% increase in deforestation compared to the previous period, according to the National Institute for Space Research Institute (Inpe). As reported by the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, 7,340 km² of native vegetation was lost, the highest value since 2015. The article points to the expansion of the agricultural frontier in the Matopiba region as the major threat to the biome.

Ordinance outsources to municipalities the competence to settle land disputes and may facilitate land grabbing

Environmentalists and House Representatives say that the proposition stimulates land grabbing

Credit: Christian Braga /Greenpeace

8 Dec 20

Ordinance outsources to municipalities the competence to settle land disputes and may facilitate land grabbing

In an ordinance published in the Federal Official Gazette (DOU) on December 3, the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (Incra) presented the program “Titula Brasil [Acquiring Deeds Brazil]”, which outsources the process of land regularization of Union or Incra lands through a partnership with municipalities throughout Brazil, “with main emphasis on the nine states of the Legal Amazon”, according to a official statement from the government.

In 60 days the government will announce more details of the measure. So far, what is known is that it will be up to the municipality to nominate technicians who will carry out the survey, either municipal officials or external employees. Those chosen will receive an online training given by Incra and, once qualified, will act as outsourced employees of the Institute.

Servants, environmentalists, and congressional representatives – who have asked for the courts to annul the ordinance – have pointed out that the program facilitates land grabbing and threatens indigenous territories and quilombolas [Afro-brazilian traditional communities]. This would be another step by the government toward regulating illegally occupied lands, they warn, recalling the provisional measure known as “MP da Grilagem” [Land Grabbing Provisional Measure] published by Bolsonaro at the end of 2019, and later transformed into Bill 2.633/2020, still under analysis in the House of Representatives.

To the newspaper O Estado de São Paulo, the director of the National Confederation of Incra Servants’ Associations (Cnasi) classified the proposal as “disastrous”. “With this decision, all of Brazil’s land grabbing will be regularized in a short time. This will prevent new land reform settlement projects, new regularization of quilombola territories, new indigenous areas and new areas of environmental preservation. It is an inconsequential and disastrous decision for democratization of access to land and for the environment,” he said.

Another critical point of “Titula Brasil” is the possibility of remote inspection by geo-referencing. According to the G1 portal, an audit by the Comptroller General’s Office (CGU) pointed out that Incra did not carry out any face-to-face inspections in 2019, “essential to ensure that the regularized land is not the target of land theft or is in dispute among families”, say experts.

New NGO report links beef industry giants to illegal Amazon deforestation

A farm in São Félix do Xingu, Pará State, that participated in the “Day of The Fire” and supplies JBS and Marfrig

Credit: Christian Braga/Greenpeace

3 Dec 20

New NGO report links beef industry giants to illegal Amazon deforestation

A Global Witness survey shows that three Brazilian beef giants – JBS, Marfrig and Minerva – have their production chains marked by illegal deforestation in the Amazon. The study shows that between 2017 and 2019, in Pará State, the companies bought cattle from 379 farms that illegally deforested an area of 202 square kilometers, equivalent to 20,000 soccer fields. The trail of destruction is even greater when considering the over 4,000 suppliers of these farms, the “indirect suppliers” linked to the productive chains of the companies, responsible for an estimated total of 140,000 deforested soccer fields.

The report also questions the veracity of the audits carried out by international companies DNV-GL and Grant Thornton, which claimed “several times” that JBS, Marfrig and Minerva were fulfilling their social and environmental commitments. Also, major international banks such as Santander, Deutsche Bank and HSBC are cited in the document as accomplices to the deforestation, since they continue financing the companies.

The farmers are direct accomplices of the destruction of the Amazon, the slaughterhouses are failing to remove the deforestation from their productive chains of the cattle that they buy from these cattle ranchers, the auditors have restrictions to perform their audits, which means that the audits are not detecting the cases that we identified, The banks, on the other hand, are not asking enough questions of the meat factories and, at the same time, are not forced by their governments to make a strict control to remove deforestation from their investments,” summarized Chris Moye, senior Amazon researcher at Global Witness, in an interview for BBC Brazil

Brazil's greenhouse gas emissions rise by almost 10% in 2019

Experts associate the rise to deforestation of the Amazon and Pantanal

Credit: Christian Braga/Greenpeace

12 Nov 20

Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions rise by almost 10% in 2019

In the first year of the Bolsonaro government, Brazil registered a 9.6% increase in greenhouse gas emissions, driven by high deforestation rates. The information comes from the Climate Observatory (OC), based on the analysis of data from the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Estimation System (SEEG). In 2019, 2.17 billion gross tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) were released into the atmosphere, compared to 1.98 billion in 2018. According to the data, the rural activity was the main responsible for the increase in emissions: “Adding the emissions from land use and farming, the SEEG concludes that rural activity – either directly or indirectly, through deforestation, which is almost all directed to farming – accounted for 72% of emissions in Brazil last year,” said the organization.

The energy sector also had a significant participation in emissions registered in 2019, responsible for 19% of total emissions in the country. According to the OC, the growth comes from the high consumption of electricity and the consequent activation of gas thermoelectric plants and increased use of diesel. The increase happens in the while the government gives subsides to the production of fossil fuels, according to a recent study by the Institute of Socio-economic Studies (Inesc), published by the G1 website. There were R$ 99.4 billion in subsidies to producers and consumers of oil derivatives, coal and natural gas, an increase of 16% over 2018 and the equivalent of 1.36% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2019.

The contribution of the waste sector, although small, by being responsible for 4% of the country’s emissions – was also highlighted. “Historically the sector presents a significant growth. However, in recent years a certain stability of emissions is possible. This indicates a scenario of maintaining the current situation, without major advances in waste management and the fulfillment of sectoral climate objectives,” said Iris Coluna, of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, one of the NGOs responsible for developing the SEEG.

The 2019 emissions go against the goal of the National Policy on Climate Change (PNMC) – which officializes the country’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions between 36.1% and 38.9% of projected emissions by 2020 – and places Brazil in 6th place on the list of the world’s largest climate polluters, according to the organization.

Indigenous health: Covid-19 menace increases with environmental destruction

Deforestation helps the virus spread: a tragic combination for local populations

Credit: Vinícius Mendonça/Ibama/via CC BY-SA 2.0

10 Nov 20

Indigenous health: Covid-19 menace increases with environmental destruction

Since March, studies and surveys by researchers and civil society organizations have been issuing warnings about the extreme vulnerability of the indigenous population when facing the Covid-19 pandemic. The environmental devastation promoted by the burning and deforestation, which reached record levels in 2020, is pointed out as a significant risk factor for indigenous health, by increasing the risk of contagion and bringing territorial instability.

Reporter Brasil brought to the public an unprecedented survey of the NGO Global Forest Watch that points to the devastation promoted by more than 115 thousand outbreaks of fire in several Indigenous Lands since the beginning of the year until October 29. According to the report, out of the more than 724 TIs contemplated by the report, in several states, 61% registered fires. Local leaders and experts point out the lack of structure to fight the fires – used by farmers to clean the pasture – and denounce the abandonment of the National Indian Foundation (Funai). Indigenous Land Parque do Xingu, in Mato Grosso State, is among the most affected in 2020, with 10,502 outbreaks of fire. “Our reality is not good at all. We’ve lost many leaders, our people are dying [from Covid-19] and, to make matters worse, our house, which is our pharmacy and our supermarket, is on fire,” reported Watatakalu Yawalapiti, the region’s leader, who is home to 16 ethnic groups in 500 villages.

Although the fire from the fires does not directly affect the communities, its impact on health will be felt, points out the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation. The research “Covid-19 and burning in the Legal Amazon and Pantanal: cumulative aspects and vulnerabilities,” released by the Deutsche Welle on November 12, warns about how the coexistence of the increase in burning and the presence of Covid-19 can further aggravate the health situation of the indigenous peoples. “The large occurrence of burnings, which has reached record numbers in 2020, combined with low humidity in the Amazon region and Pantanal, may worsen the impact of the epidemic of Covid-19. The particulate material and toxic gases generated by the burning of biomass reach long distances, and can affect large cities in the North and Midwest regions, as well as river-dwellers populations, quilombos and indigenous lands hundreds of kilometers away from the sources of fire. The particulate material has a great inflammatory potential, which can aggravate the cases of Covid-19, being also a gateway for respiratory infections,” says the technical note of the study. The document highlights that one of the priority areas for strengthening the health system and control of fires is precisely that of the “arc of deforestation,” especially in northern Mato Grosso State, where TI Parque do Xingu (MT) is located, and in the southeast of Pará State.

Alongside with the fires, deforestation on indigenous lands, caused by gold diggers, miners, and illegal loggers, grows exponentially, increasing the risk of Covid-19 spreading in the villages, points out another study, prepared by the Instituto Socioambiental [Socio-environmental Institute] (ISA) and released in September. According to the organization, in the Trincheira-Bacajá, Kayapó and Munduruku indigenous lands, in southwest Pará, deforestation increased, respectively, 827%, 420% and 238%, between March and July 2020. The regions are among the seven most invaded lands in the Legal Amazon, together with the Karipuna and Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau (Rondônia State), Araribóia (Maranhão State) and Yanomami (Amazonas and Roraima States). As a response, the cases of the diseases shoot up in the territories, says ISA.

In the most recent survey made by the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB) about the impact of Covid-19 among the indigenous peoples of the Amazon, until November 9, 28,241 confirmed cases of the disease were registered, 643 suspects and 695 deaths, in 133 peoples.

US elections likely to impact Brazilian environmental agenda

Elections may change the relations between countries, given Bolsonaro’s Trump-centric approach to policies

Credit: Alan Santos/PR/via CC BY 2.0

7 Nov 20

US elections likely to impact Brazilian environmental agenda

The victory of the Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the U.S. presidential elections, announced on November 6, might bring important changes in the relationship between the U.S. and Brazil. With Trump, the Brazilian government found ideological alignment between the anti-human rights and anti-human environment agendas. But now, it will have the challenge to establish an open dialogue with a new president who has already publicly declared, throughout the electoral race, dissatisfaction with the Brazilian socio-environmental policy. Biden has even mentioned an eventual U.S. mobilization if Brazil does not take effective measures for the protection of the Amazon. To deepen the understanding on how Biden’s arrival to the presidency may impact Brazil, we recommend some readings:

– Brazilian analysts are already speculating about the possible fall of ministers Ricardo Salles (Environment) and Ernesto Araújo (Foreign Relations), who hold key positions for the construction of a common agenda between the newly elected government in the U.S. and that of Jair Bolsonaro, as highlighted by a report from El País, which heard dozens of experts.

The website O Eco, focused on covering environmental issues, spoke with two experts in climate and environmental policy. The article highlights specific points of Joe Biden’s government program relevant to Brazil, such as the resumption of the Paris Agreement, and the advancement of the environmental agenda among Democrats in recent years. They also mention a possible commercial and investor stoppage due to the inaction of the Brazilian government in the face of environmental destruction.

– The Globo Rural heard a team of experts who also analyzed the economic consequences that Brazil may suffer if it does not prioritize the development of a sustainable economy. The article highlights a possible isolation of the country in the international market by ignoring the need to change its environmental policy in the face of commercial pressure from major players like Europe and China.  

VP takes ambassadors on blindsiding tour to the Amazon

NGO offered an alternative tour to diplomats, including areas more severely affected by deforestation

Credit: Christian Braga/Greenpeace

6 Nov 20

VP takes ambassadors on blindsiding tour to the Amazon

At the head of two key institutions for environmental protection, the Amazon Council and the Amazon Fund, Vice President Hamilton Mourão organized a tour of the Amazon with ambassadors, which began on October 4. Representatives from the European Union, Germany, France, Sweden, United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Canada, Peru, Colombia and South Africa participated in the visits.

As reported by El País, the trip was criticized by environmentalists for proposing a “shielded” route, concentrated on the outskirts of Manaus, capital of Amazonas State, and the city of São Gabriel da Cachoeira, ignoring the regions most affected by deforestation. As a counterpoint, the NGO Greenpeace sent the ambassadors an alternative route, including the states of Pará and Mato Grosso do Sul. “A diplomatic trip through the Brazilian Amazon that does not include in its route the challenges and serious environmental damage that the region faces, is an incomplete trip and a missed opportunity,” said the NGO.

To the DW, Heiko Thoms, German Ambassador, one of the main donor countries of the now paralyzed Amazon Fund, stated that the trip does not change the country’s impression about the Brazilian environmental crisis. In parallel to Mourão’s invitation, Thoms met with the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB) and the Sustainable Amazon Foundation.

The United Kingdom diplomat Liz Davidson shared her impressions in a series of Twitter posts. She reinforced the importance of the visit “at a crucial moment of the sustainable development agenda in Brazil and in the world”. Davidson, however, regretted “not going to the areas most affected by deforestation and not having had the opportunity to talk with organizations and social leaderships working in the region, which would have helped to conduct our dialogue in a more balanced and transparent manner”.

The visit took place amid strong international pressure against Brazil’s high deforestation rates. In early October, the European Parliament called for changes in Mercosur’s environmental policy so that the economic agreement between the blocs could be signed; in June, a group of investors sent an open letter to the Brazilian embassies in several countries expressing concern about growing deforestation rates.

Ibama halts forest fire-fighting due to "lack of money" while resources at the Amazon Fund remain frozen

Over 1,400 environmental agents had to leave their duties

Credit: Vinícius Mendonça/Ibama/via CC BY-SA 2.0

21 Oct 20

Ibama halts forest fire-fighting due to “lack of money” while resources at the Amazon Fund remain frozen

The Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Resources (Ibama), via its Environmental Protection Directorate, ordered the withdrawal of the Forest Fire Brigades across the country starting at midnight of October 22nd. The order interrupted the work of approximately 1,4000 firefighting agents who work at the National Center for Prevention and Fight against Forest Fires (Prevfogo). In a statement, the organ justified the measure alleging “exhaustion of resources”. “Since September, the autarchy has been facing difficulties regarding financial releases by the National Treasury Secretariat”, says the text. The newspaper Estado de S. Paulo revealed that the Ministry of the Environment questioned the Ministry of Economy about the resources, but did not receive any hint that the funds would be released.

The episode is yet another escalation on the budgetary tension between the two ministries. In August, minister Ricardo Salles announced the interruption of firefighting in the Amazon and the Pantanal due to the blockade of R$ 60 million in the budget of the Ministry of the Environment, determined by the chief of staff of the Presidency and led by the Ministry of Economy. Salles retreated, but it led Vice President Hamilton Mourão, who heads the Amazon Fund, to classify MMA’s action as “hasty”.

For the National Association of Environmental Public Servants (Ascema), the withdrawal of the Forest Fire Brigades happens as “the government  squanders money by ending the Amazon Fund to now say it has no resources”. The organization refers to governance problems faced by the Amazon Fund since 2019, such as the exclusion of participation from society, among other irregularities, which culminated in Salles’s departure from the chairmanship of the committee in May 2020. Managed by the National Bank for Economic Development and Social (BNDES), the Amazon Fund raises funds for actions to prevent, monitor and combat deforestation, and to promote conservation and the sustainable use of the biome.

In this scenario, Norway, the main international donor of the fund, reaffirmed the need for a new stance by the federal government in relation to the country’s environmental policy so that operations can be resumed. In an interview with Valor Econômico, Sveinung Rotevatn, Norwegian Minister for Climate and Environment, stated that the advance of deforestation and the vulnerable situation of indigenous peoples in Brazil is of concern to Norway. “I receive letters every week asking us to ask the Brazilian authorities for concrete progress before reopening the Amazon Fund,” he said.

Salles and federal attorney general act to intimidate environmentalist

NGOs say that attacks against Marcio Astrini are anti-democratic

Carolina Antunes/PR/via CC BY 2.0

14 Oct 20

Salles and federal attorney general act to intimidate environmentalist

The minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, in yet another attack against the work of NGOs and environmentalists, requested the Attorney General’s Office (AGU) to summon Marcio Astrini, executive secretary of the Climate Observatory, to present explanations about statements given to the newspaper O Globo on May 25th. In the article, which echoed Salles’ suggestion of taking advantage of the pandemic to further deregulate environmental norms, Astrini criticized what he called “an environmental destruction task force”, led by the minister, and drew attention to its attempt to work with AGU to “avoid legal problems”.

The environmentalist, in addition to his work at the Climate Observatory – which gathers 50 organizations, such as the Instituto Socioambiental (ISA) and the World Wide Fund for Nature – Brazil (WWF-Brazil) -, worked for 13 years at Greenpeace.

According to the G1 portal, the AGU claims that the judicial interpellation is justified by Astrini having committed a “crime against honor”, since “‘Besides attacking the person of the Minister of State for the Environment, it also affects the institution of the Attorney General”.

In a statement, the Climate Observatory repudiated the attempt to intimidate Astrini and criticized the minister’s anti-democratic stance. “While Salles seeks to use the state apparatus to hide his anti-environmental policy, the forest burns, transparency decreases, the democratic space shortens and Brazil’s image disintegrates internationally. His performance only shows that, as a minister, he is not willing to take any kind of effective action for the protection of the Amazon and other biomes, and that is not up to the position it holds “, says the text.

Deforestation alerts in the Amazon reach new high in September

It is the second deforestation peak during Bolsonaro administration in September

Credit: Christian Braga/Greenpeace

9 Oct 20

Deforestation alerts in the Amazon reach new high in September

Statistics from the Institute for Space Studies (Inpe) show that the two biggest peaks of deforestation alerts in the Legal Amazon region in September occurred under Bolsonaro administration: the first, in 2019, with alerts in an area of ​​1,454 km², and now, in 2020, in 964 km². The information on deforestation by Inpe traces back to 2015, the year in which the Inpe’s Deforestation Detection System in Real Time (Deter) began circulating the alerts. The website El País reports that, until 2018, the monthly average of alerts from the Dete/Inper system was 576 km². As of 2019, it has risen to 1,189 km².

In response to the rise in deforestation in the Amazon region in 2020, the Bolsonaro administration, through its Ministry of Defense, implemented in May the Army Operation Verde Brasil 2, led by Vice President Hamilton Mourão, to “fight and suppress environmental crimes” in the Legal Amazon region. However, deforestation continued to rise even with the allocation of R$ 418,6 million for the six-month  Verde Brasil 2 Operation, which is set to end in November.   

On October 5, piauí magazine denounced the use of the Operation Verde Brasil 2 budget for the refurbishment of Armed Forces barracks and units inside and outside the Legal Amazon. One of them was the 47th Infantry Battalion, which deployed military personnel from Coxim, Mato Grosso do Sul State, to operate in the city of Juara, Mato Grosso State. According to the publication, Verde Brasil 2’s budget “already paid for the renovation of the roofs, the painting of the walls and the replacement of coatings, floors, doors and frames” of the 47th Battalion. For doors and frames alone, it was R$ 545,000 reais. Another example is the 44th Motorized Infantry Battalion, in Cuiabá, Mato Grosso’s capital, whose renovation expenses in the barracks exceeded R$1.2 million reais.

“Firefighter Cattle”

Minister Teresa Cristina says more stock farming could stop Pantanal’s devastation

Credits: Antonio Araujo/via CC BY-NC 2.0

9 Oct 20

“Firefighter Cattle”

While Pantanal wetlands face record breaking rates of forest fires, Agriculture Minister Teresa Cristina stated that the problem could be mitigated if there was more livestock activity in the biome. She also said that the devastation was because of the sizeable amount of “dry organic matter” in the region. The minister’s speech alludes to the “thesis” of the “firefighter cattle”, presented by the livestock leader Leopoldo Mário in an article in Folha de S. Paulo in September. The farmer stated that cattle would be the “fireman of the Pantanal” for cleaning up the pasture, and defended the permission of controlled burning as a measure to reduce fires in the region.

According to data from the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), 14% of the Pantanal area was burned only in September, a historical record of annual devastation since the beginning of the monitoring work carried out by the agency in 2002. In addition to the drought that marked the period, data from the Integrated Multiagencies Center for Operational Coordination of Mato Grosso (Ciman-MT) point out that the fires recorded in the state were caused by intentional human action. According to an analysis by the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), INPE’s partner in monitoring the region affected by the fires, the fires consumed 26% of the total area of ​​the Pantanal in 2020, from January to September.

EU asks for changes in Mercosur environmental policies to ratify trade agreement

Brasil was mentioned as an example of bad policies

Credit: Jorisvo/iStock

7 Oct 20

EU asks for changes in Mercosur environmental policies to ratify trade agreement

The European Parliament approved an amendment in a report about the application of the continent’s trade agreement reinforcing the need for changes in the environmental policies of the Mercosur countries – in particular, Brazil – in order for the treaty with the European Union to materialize.

The first version of the report, proposed by French deputies, named Bolsonaro’s policies. Although his name was deleted in the final report,  the text reflects the growing tension  between France and Brazil around the environmental agenda. The group of parliamentarians expressed “ deep concern about the environmental policy of Jair Bolsonaro, which is incompatible with the commitments made under the Paris Agreement, namely to fight global warming and protect biodiversity”, according to newspaper Valor Econômico. In its analysis, the newspaper said that although the amendment has no veto power, in practical terms, “the need for additional guarantees by the Bolsonaro government in the environmental area will be essential for Europeans to move to ratify or not the bi-regional agreement.“ In September, Vice President Hamilton Mourão received a letter signed by ambassadors from eight European countries – Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark and Belgium – that criticizes the government’s environmental policy and signals the departure of investors and companies from Brazil in response to the environmental crisis.

Environmental offenders hold public office and run for local elections in Amazon states

Names on Ibama’s “dirty list” might gain more power in the 2020 elections

Crédito: Felipe Werneck/Ibama/via CC BY-SA 2.0

7 Oct 20

Environmental offenders hold public office and run for local elections in Amazon states

A former logging company owner, defendant in an environmental crime charge, became director of the Acre’s Institute for the Environment and Climate Analysis (Imac), the state agency responsible for “preventing and encouraging the preservation of the environment”. The State Official Gazette ratified the nomination on October 2, according to G1 news. The Federal Prosecutor’s Office (MPF) denounced Adelaide de Fátima Oliveira for fraudulent misrepresentation, for making public inspection difficult on environmental issues and for acquiring lumber without a valid license. According to the complaint, in 2014, the former businesswoman instructed employees to insert false information into the control system used for issuing Forest Origin Documents (SisDOF) in an attempt to falsify the legality of the lumber she was selling. The same procedure also might have happened in 2015, in another company that she owned. Questioned by the G1 portal, Oliveira declined to comment.

In other states of the Legal Amazon region, several environmental offenders already occupy public positions, and the situation may worsen with the upcoming municipal elections in November 2020. The investigative journalism outlet Agência Pública made a study that shows that 118 candidates for mayor were fined for environmental crimes committed in the region in the last ten years. Of these, 51 are in office. Out of the 28 running for re-election, 12 are farmers, ranchers or loggers.

Among the politicians fined by Ibama, Pública found mayors of municipalities in the State of Pará who gained national attention for what became known as the “Day of Fire”, on August 10th, 2019 – Valmir Climaco (MDB), from Itaituba; Raimundo Batista Santiago (PSC), from Jacareacanga; Valdinei José Ferreira (PL) and his deputy, Maurício de Lima Santos (PL), from Trairão; Ubiraci Soares Silva (PL) and his deputy, Gelson Luiz Dill (MDB), from Novo Progresso. Publica also listed candidates for mayors and vice-mayors from states outside the Amazon who have environmental fines for crimes committed in the region. The states of Goiás, Ceará, São Paulo, Bahia, Minas Gerais, Mato Grosso do Sul, Pernambuco and Paraná have 11 candidates, and six of them are running for reelection.

Farms involved in criminal “Day of the Fire” sell meat to JBS and Marfrig, says Greenpeace

São José Farm in São Félix do Xingu (PA), one of the properties responsible for the “Day of the Fire” supply cattle to both agro-giants

Crédito: Christian Braga/Greenpeace

5 Oct 20

Farms involved in criminal “Day of the Fire” sell meat to JBS and Marfrig, says Greenpeace

A Greenpeace report released on the one-year anniversary of the event known as “Day of Fire”, when a coordinated action by farmers caused a 1,923% increase in forest fires in Amazon’s Pará State, showed that forest fires-causing properties are part of the supply chain of Marfrig and JBS, Brazilian multinationals and the two largest meat producers in the world. Greenpeace also found connections between properties that provide cattle to the companies with slave labor. The document points out the São José farm, in the municipality of São Félix do Xingu, Bacuri and Santa Rosa farms, both in Altamira. The latter two supplied indirectly to slaughterhouses — meaning that they sell to properties that pass produce on to the sector’s giants. JBS informed that São José is no longer part of its distribution chain. The report also points out that only 5.7% of the 478 properties with active fire on Fire Day received fines. 

Meanwhile, international pressure grows. Parknshop, Hong Kong’s largest supermarket chain, said it would no longer buy meat from JBS. In the United Kingdom, a public consultation may pass a new legislation that increases the severity of regulation to products that come from areas of deforestation. 23 food giants – like McDonald’s, Mondeléz and Nestlé – wrote a letter to the government calling for greater control over the entry of produce from deforested areas. The British company M&S also announced, in late September, that it will no longer use soy in any of its products to combat deforestation in Brazil.

Rise in deforestation reopens  debate about  restructuring at the Ministry of the Environment

The reform is seen as a way to minimize international backlash over environmental policies

Crédito: Rogerio Florentino/Greenpeace

2 Oct 20

Rise in deforestation reopens debate about restructuring at the Ministry of the Environment

After Brazil experienced record levels of deforestation in the Amazon and Pantanal, added to the negative international repercussions of the administration of minister Ricardo Salles, the government and the business sector started discussing, once again, administrative reforms in the Ministry of the Environment (MMA), as a response to the environmental crisis. According to the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, agribusiness entrepreneurs, allied with sectors of the government, started in June a joint effort to pressure for the merger of the MMA and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (Mapa), one of Bolsonaro’s promises on being elected. These economic groups see the measure as a way to ease Brazil’s image abroad, by transferring the leadership of Brazilian environmental policy to the Amazon Council, led by Vice President Hamilton Mourão. Mourão, in turn, although seen as a solution, has made frequent attacks on the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe), responsible for monitoring deforestation in the country. He accused Inpe officials of opposing the federal government due to official data that point to an increase in fires in 2020. Also, according to the report, representatives of slaughterhouses and exporters are leading ​​the merger, who fear losing the international market. 

Another potential merger is also on the agenda: of the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama) and the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity (ICMBio). On October 2nd, the creation of a Working Group (WG) for “analysis of synergies and efficiency gains” in the event of joining the control agencies was published in the Official Gazette of the Union, with 120 days to study the decision, counting from the first meeting. In a statement, the National Association of Environmental Servers (Ascema-Nacional) evaluates the merger as “totally inopportune and problematic” and questions the composition of the WG, with “military police officers and political nominees linked to the ruralist caucus who have no knowledge environmental agenda“. The text calls attention to the systematic dismantling of the Ministry of the Environment promoted by minister Ricardo Salles, “in the sense of weakening and delegitimizing the Environment agencies, and the militarization of Brazilian environmental policy. In September, the association published the report” Chronology of a Disaster Announced “, which brings together actions by Jair Bolsonaro and his government, covering the pre-election period, in 2018, until August 2020.

In first US presidential debate, Biden threatens Brazil over Amazon deforestation

Biden had already criticized Bolsonaro’s environmental policies

Crédito: Gage Skidmore/via CC BY-SA 2.0

30 Sep 20

In first US presidential debate, Biden threatens Brazil over Amazon deforestation

During the first debate of the US presidential race on September 29th,  Democratic candidate Joe Biden, while addressing climate change, mentioned Brazil  and questioned the leadership role north-americans should be playing on the issue. “The Amazon forest in Brazil is being destroyed (….) I will try to make sure that countries around the world come up with US$20 billion and say (…) stop destroying the forest. If you don’t, will face significant economic consequences”, said Biden, without going into detail of what would be those consequences. 

On the following day, president Bolsonaro strongly reacted to Biden’s comments, posting on Facebook that he took it as a menace of economic sanctions against Brazil. International news wires reported that Bolsonaro wrote in Portuguese and English that he won’t accept “bribes” or “coward threats” and reaffirmed that the Brazilian government was acting against deforestation, and that “foreign interests in the Amazon” are a danger to national sovereignty. 

Large farms concentrate the majority of hotspots and deforestation rates in the Amazon and Pantanal

Impacts of September/2020 forest fires in Pantanal

Credit: Leandro Cagiano/Greenpeace

23 Sep 20

Large farms concentrate the majority of hotspots and deforestation rates in the Amazon and Pantanal

A report by the Amazon Research Institute (Ipam) based on a NASA platform and released in early August already hinted at what was coming: in the Amazon, 71% of the burnings in rural properties — between January and June 2020 — occurred for agricultural management (in previously deforested areas) and 24% were forest fires in areas of native vegetation (which are usually a “side effect” of agricultural management fires). The report also pointed that half of the hot spots happened in medium and large rural properties.

Similar figures appear in the analysis of the Smoke Curtain project, launched on September 23 by Ambiental Media in partnership with the Pulitzer Center. According to the survey, medium and large rural properties accounted for 72% of the hot spots that occurred in 2019 in the four main critical areas of the Amazon deforestation frontier. Altamira (PA), São Félix do Xingu (PA), Porto Velho (RO) and Lábrea (AM) concentrated 17.5% of deforestation between August 2018 and July 2019 in the region. They also top the list of the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe) of the municipalities with most forest fires in the last year. To obtain the results, the Smoke Curtain project compared official public data on deforestation and fires from Inpe with the base of the Rural Environmental Registry (CAR), which maps rural properties.

In the Pantanal, a survey by the NGOs Repórter Brasil and Instituto Centro e Vida (ICV) showed that outbreaks of fires started in nine farms in the biome destroyed over 141,000 hectares of vegetation. Operation Matàà identified four of those farms in an investigation conducted by the Federal Police in Mato Grosso do Sul State. The other five large properties are located in Mato Grosso. The survey carried out by the NGOs compared data from the Rural Environmental Registry (CAR) with satellite images from Inpe and NASA.

Under pressure from investors, JBS tries to unlink itself from deforestation

São José Farm, in Pará State, supplier of cattle to JBS, had hotspots during the “Day of the Fire”, on August, 2019

Crédito: Christian Braga/Greenpeace

23 Sep 20

Under pressure from investors, JBS tries to unlink itself from deforestation

The record increase in fires and deforestation rates is reducing Brazil’s attractiveness for foreign investors. According to the newspaper O Globo, in the first eight months of 2020, more than US$15 billion in capitals left the country, the highest volume since 1982. Analysts and managers believe that the environmental crisis may worsen this situation. In an audience at the Supreme Federal Court (STF) on climate change on the 22nd, the former president of the Central Bank, Armínio Fraga, spoke about the worsening of Brazil’s image abroad: “Deforestation and other environmental crimes, in addition to aggravating the global problem, bring enormous risk to the agribusiness ecosystem, our most successful sector, and also to the energy supply in our country “.

Sensing the pressure, on the 23rd, JBS, the largest animal protein producer in the world, launched a plan to “increase the siege on the beef supply chain (…) to ensure that the meat that reaches the consumer does not contribute to the overthrow of the Amazon: the suppliers of their suppliers“. The so-called “Green Platform JBS” intends to use blockchain technology to process data from all farms, whether owned by direct or indirect suppliers to verify compliance with social-environmental legislation. JBS (owner of the Friboi and Seara brands) also announced the creation of a fund with an initial value of R$ 250 million to finance conservation and economic development actions in the region.

JBS ‘“Green Platform” plans to have full control of direct and indirect cattle suppliers by 2025. Environmentalists recognized the importance of the plan but criticized the five-year deadline to clean up the production chain and questioned the company’s ability to carry out such measures without support from the government.

Nordic investment funds Nordea Asset and KLP, which have already banned JBS from their portfolios, also consider that the proposal presented by the company has a term “too long to be satisfactory”. With R$ 3.4 trillion of assets in its portfolio, the Finnish Nordea Asset banned JBS from its portfolio in July, after a joint press investigation revealed that the slaughterhouse bought cattle raised in an area of ​​deforestation in the Amazon.

An investigation by the NGO Repórter Brasil, disclosed on the eve of the announcement by the agribusiness giant, reaffirmed the problems in the JBS production chain. Part of the fire that devastated Mato Grosso’s Pantanal originated from ranchers’ farms that sell cattle to the Amaggi and Bom Futuro groups, which supply not only to JBS but also to other multinationals like Marfrig and Minerva. The survey was based on a study by the NGO Instituto Centro e Vida, which identified the origin of the fires in five properties in Mato Grosso, analyzing fire hotspots between July 1 and August 17, 2020.

In speech at UNGA, Bolsonaro lies about Brazilian environmental crisis

“We are leaders of rainforest conservation”, said the president while epic fires ravage Brazil

Crédito: TV Brasil/Reproduction

22 Sep 20

In speech at UNGA, Bolsonaro lies about Brazilian environmental crisis

On September 21st, on the eve of Bolsonaro’s speech at the UN General Assembly, Brazilian chancellor Ernesto Araújo refused to accept a debate, promoted by United Nations Human Rights Council, about the crisis in the Amazon.  According to reports by the website UOL, directly from the UN in Geneva, the diplomat was reacting to the fact that for the first time in its democratic period Brazil became the target of an official recommendation for an international investigation on the federal government policies for the environment and human rights in Brazil. 

It was amid this awkward atmosphere of attacks from the Brazilian diplomacy to the UN that president Bolsonaro took his pre-recorded speech to the opening ceremony of the 75th UN General Assembly on the 22nd. During a roughly 14 minutes speech, Bolsonaro defended his government’s performance on the environment, blamed indigenous and traditional communities for the record forest fires this season, and complained that Brazil was a victim of an international misinformation campaign about deforestation. He also claimed that the country has the best environmental legislation of the planet and is a leader on “forest conservation”. The president used the opportunity to defend the agribusiness sector and deny the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, which disproportionately affected indigenous and quilombola communities. 

Civil society organizations such as the Climate Observatory (OC) prepared to fact-check the president’s statements in real time, and detected a high number of lies and fake news. In a press release, OC said that “by simultaneously denying the environmental crisis and the pandemic, the president provides a soundtrack for divestment and cancelling of international trade agreements in a critical post-Covid 19 time of economic recovery”. WWF-Brazil said that Bolsonaro made unfounded accusations and anti-science conclusions that are not aligned with the role of a Chief of State.  Buzzfeed published a test about what was real and what was fake in the Brazilian president’s speech at the UN.

Campaign aims to reduce forest fires in Santarém (PA)

Initiative raises awareness about safe use of fires for preparing the soil

Crédito: Projeto Saúde & Alegria/Handout

21 Sep 20

Campaign aims to reduce forest fires in Santarém (PA)

The campaign “United community preserves life” was launched in Santarém, Pará State, with the aim of preventing accidental forest fires that originate from controlled bush burning practised by small farmers and traditional

Amazon communities. The initiative offers guidance on how to prepare the soil with safety and how to get permits from related authorities and introducing techniques for cultivating without using fire. Many local stakeholders got together to run the campaign, including federal Institute Chico Mendes for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio) and its field programs at the Tapajos National Forest and Extractivist Reserve (Resex) Tapajós-Arapiuns, Pará state Civil Guard, the 4th Fire Department and community groups such as the Federation of the Tapajos National Forest, The Resex-Tapajoara Organization and NGOs such as Projeto Saúde e Alegria. 

 One year ago, forest fires in the Santarém and Alter do Chão regions gained international attention after a state police inquiry led to the preventive arrest of voluntary firefighters (brigadistas) that worked with environmental NGOs in the region.  In August 2020, after months of official investigation, the Federal Police dismissed the participation of the brigadistas in the forest fires.

Supreme Court holds unprecedented hearing about environmental crisis

Authorities, experts, civil society and government officials were invited

Crédito: Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil

21 Sep 20

Supreme Court holds unprecedented hearing about environmental crisis

On September 21 and 22, the Supreme Federal Court (STF) held a virtual public hearing to discuss the Brazilian environmental crisis and the global context of climate emergency. Justice Luís Roberto Barroso summoned the hearing as the rapporteur of a suit brought by four parties (Rede, PSOL, PSB and PT), that accuses the Ministry of the Environment of paralysing, since 2019, the National Fund on Climate Change, one of the main financing instruments in the fight against global warming.

Barroso invited dozens of authorities and experts from academia, civil society, the private sector and government to create an overview of the country’s environmental situation. For the minister, the fund situation illustrates a set of actions and omissions that may represent a general state of unconstitutionality. The hearing began on the eve of President Bolsonaro’s speech at the opening of the UN General Assembly.

Among the authorities present, the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Rodrigo Maia, said that the fires in the Amazon hinder Brazilian agribusiness abroad. The Minister of Science and Technology, Marcos Pontes, recognized the relationship between forest fires and global warming. The Minister of the Institutional Security Office (GSI), General Augusto Heleno, defended the federal government’s role in the environmental agenda, saying that there was no omission and that critics want to attack President Bolsonaro. Repeating arguments from other sectors of the government, Heleno criticized the work of NGOs, accusing them of serving foreign and ideological interests and repeated that the causes of forest fires are natural.

The question of mining in the Amazon was also on the agenda; Heleno defended the regularization of mining activities inside indigenous lands.

Government declares war on Inpe for monitoring deforestation

VP once again shows contempt for Inpe

Crédito: Valter Campanato/Agência Brasil

20 Sep 20

Government declares war on Inpe for monitoring deforestation

On September 15th, vice president Hamilton Mourão accused public servant experts from Inpe, the National Institute on Space Research, of making political opposition to the federal government. According to the VP, positive results about reducing forest fires were not being publicized by the Institute — that is the federal organ in charge of monitoring deforestation in Brazil.  “Someone from the inside is opposing the government. I want to make this very clear here”, he said, citing official data that showed that the country registered 5,000 fire hotspots less in 2020 compared to the same period on January-August 2019. However, data from Inpe contradicts the VP’s narrative, indicating that there were more fires in the Amazon in the first two weeks of September 2020 (20,485 hotspots) than for the entire month of September in 2019 (19,925 hotspots). 

According to satellite monitoring experts, Inpe’s system is unique in the world, allowing real time follow up, data transparency and civil society participation. 

Beyond the attacks coming from the presidential wing, in an inquiry at the Unions Finance Court (TCU) about the purchase of satellite images, the Federal Police declared that Inpe provoques disinformation against new monitoring initiatives in order to maintain control over the narrative and knowledge of deforestation in Brazil. The Federal Police also called Inpe’s work “insufficient” and accused it of not doing enough for public safety. On September 19th, finance court minister Ana Arraes suspended the R$49 million reais contract between the Federal Police and satellite company Planet, alleging that the purchased system does not aggregate advantages when compared to the technology already in use by Inpe. The contract between the Federal Police and the company Planet was funded by the Ministry of Justice. 

Three days later, Norway’s Ministry of Climate and Environment announced an international deal with Kongsberg Satellite Services together with companies Planet and Airbus to supply free, universal access to tropical forest satellite monitoring in the world, including Brazil. According to the Norwegian government, Planet will supply high resolution maps and monthly updated information for visualization and download, as informed by website O Eco.

Government antagonizes environmentalists campaigns and threatens indigenous organization

Campaign by Brazilian activists got international attention

Credit: Defund Bolsonaro/Handout

18 Sep 20

Government antagonizes environmentalists campaigns and threatens indigenous organization

Fake news, misinformation and accusations of crimes against the homeland: that was how members of the Bolsonaro government reacted to campaigns and denunciations by civil society about deforestation and forest fires in the Amazon, Cerrado and Pantanal regions. President Bolsonaro set the tone of the reaction: in his weekly live broadcast on September 3, he compared NGOs working in defense of the Amazon to a “cancer”.

The president referred to the movement launched by Brazilian activists at the end of August with the motto “Defund Bolsonaro”, which angered government supporters. The campaign video says that Bolsonaro allows the destruction of the Amazon with the support of large companies and ends with the challenge: “Which side are you on? The Amazon or Bolsonaro?”. Civil society entities such as the Climate Observatory and the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil Network (APIB) helped to disseminate the material. There was an organized movement to bring down the initiative’s Instagram profile. According to a report in the newspaper O Globo, messages with instructions to report the campaign circulated in WhatsApp groups on September 6th.

On the 9th, the Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, Vice President Hamilton Mourão and Federal Deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro shared a “video response” that declared that the Amazon was not burning, withheld data from National Space Research Institute (Inpe) and used images of the tamarin golden lion, an endangered species that lives only in the Atlantic Rainforest, thousands of miles away from the Amazon. The video had English narration and was signed by the ruralist association of Pará State. Part of the images that appear in the ruralist video were from the Greenpeace collection and, therefore, used without authorization. The NGO requested the takedown of the video for infringing copyrights and the piece ended up being removed from Twitter.

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio, meanwhile, retweeted the original “Defund Bolsonaro” video, generating a new wave of reactions. The government’s denialist speech was countered by NGOs and experts with data from Inpe who pointed out that the number of hot spots in the Amazon between January 1 and September 9, 2020, is the highest in the last ten years, with a 6% growth when compared to 2019.

On September 13, false posts on social networks accused NGOs of being responsible for the fires in the Amazon. The posts used a 2014 photo of indigenous people arresting illegal loggers as if the image was current and the detainees were members of NGOs. Several fact-checking agencies pointed to the posts as fake news.

The following week, it was the turn of General Augusto Heleno, chief minister of the Institutional Security Office (GSI) of the Presidency of the Republic, to attack Apib for supporting the Defund Bolsonaro campaign. In a post published on his social media profiles, Heleno accused Apib of being the organization behind the campaign website, whose objectives would be “to publish fake news against Brazil, to impute environmental crimes to the President of the Republic and to support a worldwide boycott against Brazilian products”. The general also affirmed that Sônia Bone Guajajara, coordinator of Apib, is linked to Leonardo DiCaprio, “a staunch critic of the country” and concluded by saying that “the Apib website is associated with several others who work 24 hours a day to tarnish our image on abroad and commit crimes against the homeland“.

In a note, Apib rejected the general’s statement, saying that “the biggest crime that harms our country is the government’s failure to curb the destruction of our biomes, aid protected areas, stop illegal fires, land grabbing, deforestation and the invasion of our lands and theft of our wealth. On the eve of the UN General Assembly, the whole world is witnessing this crime – too big to be concealed (…). The accusations, besides being frivolous and misleading, are irresponsible because they put at risk the personal safety of those mentioned. Apib will study the appropriate measures“.

Brazilian environmental crisis puts EU-Mercosur agreement under threat

Tensão em torno do acordo já estava presente na última reunião do G20, em 2019.

Crédito: Marcos Corrêa/PR/Via Agência Brasil

18 Sep 20

Brazilian environmental crisis puts EU-Mercosur agreement under threat

The rumours that European countries would block the EU-Mercosur trade agreement due to the Brazilian environmental crisis were getting steam among european diplomats in June 2020 according to reports from El País. By late August, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she had “considerable doubts”  about her support for the agreement because of the rise in Amazon deforestation. 

In September, while Brazil broke new records on forest fires and deforestation rates, the trade agreement was once again threatened, and pressure from corporations and investment funds over the Brazilian government also increased.

On the 09th, an international team of researchers from universities of Oxford (UK), Louvain (Belgium) and Columbia (USA) published a critical analysis of the EU-Mercosur agreement saying that the text of the deal does not secure mechanisms for transparency, sanction and inclusion of local communities, going against environmental regulations from the European Union. The study indicates that the agreement fails to guarantee sustainable chains of production. In that same week, the International Trade Commission from the European Parliament issued a motion demanding more protection rules on the block trade agreements, in yet another sign of the obstacles to ratifying the treaty. 

A week later, on September 15th, two significant open letters tried to exert pressure on the Brazilian government. VP Hamilton Mourao received a document signed by ambassadors from 8 European nations — Germany, UK, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Denmark and Belgium — with a clear message: “Brazil is making it harder and harder for corporations and investors to comply with their environmental, social and governance criteria”. The countries who sent the letter take part in the Amsterdam Declaration, a partnership among nations to promote sustainable chains of production that prevent forest destruction.

In the other letter, a coalition formed by 230 organizations and companies linked to agribusiness and environment published a set of six proposals to stop Amazon deforestation. The document was sent to president Bolsonaro, VP Mourão, Federal Ministers, leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives, and embassies and members of the European Parliament. “Not only because of the social-environmental losses, but also because of the threats that forest destruction poses to the national economy. There is a clear and growing concern about deforestation from several sectors of national and international society”,  states the letter signed by the Coalition, which includes NGOs such as WWF and agribusiness companies such as JBS, Marfrig, Basf and Bayer. 

Meanwhile, in France, over 20 civil society organizations issued a statement on the 16th demanding the “final burial” of the EU-Mercosur treaty because of the “disastrous impacts” on forests, climate and human rights. The NGOs manifest came out on the eve of a technical report commissioned by the French government on the effects of the commercial agreement. 

On the 18th,  the French government report was published.  According to reports on the 184 page-study by independent experts on economy and the environment, it concludes that “the agreement is a missed opportunity by the EU to use its negotiation power to obtain solid safeguards that respond to the environmental, sanitary and social expectations of its citizens”. The experts estimate that deforestation in Mercosur countries could accelerate by 5% per year due to higher demand for beef in the EU,  increasing greenhouse gas emissions and questioning whether the relative financial gains of the agreement could compensate for the climate damage it would generate. 

Upon the release of the study, president Emmanuel Macron’s government confirmed it will maintain opposition to the treaty as it stands, a position they have been sustaining since 2019, and that it is willing to renegotiate the terms of the accord to secure the Paris Agreement climate objectives.

Government does not spend on environmental policies, increases budget for big farmers and weakens land reform

Deter/Inpe system detects fires in recently deforested area in Porto Velho, Rondônia State

Crédito: Christian Braga /Greenpeace

12 Sep 20

Government does not spend on environmental policies, increases budget for big farmers and weakens land reform

The Climate Observatory (OC), a network of civil society organizations, analyzed data from the federal government’s Integrated Planning and Budget System and concluded that in the first eight months of 2020, the Ministry of the Environment executed just over 0.4% of its budget.

The OC survey released on September 11 shows that the budget execution of direct actions by the ministry until August 31 was R$105.000 out of a total of R$26.5 million. “The urban agenda, the minister’s priority, only spent R$18.000”, asserts the entity’s technical note. The government should have used the money to plan for environmental actions. For example, the biodiversity plan had a budget of more than R$1 million but spent only R$ 50.000 in the period. Other agendas, such as the promotion of studies on climate change, did not implement even a dime of its resources.

In addition, Bolsonaro administration cut funds from strategic areas for the prevention and control of forest fires in federal lands. Even with the increase of about 30% in burnings in the Amazon and the record fires in the Pantanal, the expected expenditure on contracting fire-fighting personnel fell from R$23.78 million in 2019 to R$9.99 million in 2020, a reduction of 58% according to official data from the Portal da Transparência [Transparency Portal].

In another measure related to federal spending and land use policies, Bolsonaro administration sent to Congress a budget proposal, in early September, for the National Institute for Agrarian Reform (INCRA) that practically zeroed the budget for actions aimed at landless populations and improvements in settlements in rural areas in 2021. Approximately 90% of the resources destined to the recognition and indemnification of quilombola territories and credit lines to settled families were cut; conflict monitoring and peacemaking actions in the countryside lost 82% of their funds.

The same proposal increases the amount destined to great landowners who suffered expropriation. Analysts indicate that the measure deepens the dismantling of INCRA, initiated under Michel Temer’s administration, and it could result in the extinction of agrarian reform in the country. During the election campaign, Bolsonaro called the MST (Movement of Landless Rural Workers) “terrorists”.

Smoke in Manaus reflects record forest fires in Amazonas and Para states

On early September, Amazonas State registered a rise in hotspots

Crédito: Bruno Kelly/Amazônia Real/CC by SA

9 Sep 20

Smoke in Manaus reflects record forest fires in Amazonas and Para states

An extensive cloud of smoke from fires all over the Amazon rainforest covered Manaus, Amazonas State capital, in the first week of September. The rates of forest fires in the region have been breaking historical records since July. According to a report by Amazônia Real, between September 1st and 8th the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe) registered 2,002 hotspots in Amazonas, 170% more than in the same period in 2019, when the state had 742. The State of Pará had a more significant increase, with 3,468 outbreaks of burning, an increase of 253% when compared to the previous year (983 outbreaks). Inpe records and other institutions detected a concentration of fires in the municipalities of Novo Progresso, São Félix do Xingu and Altamira, in Pará, and Lábrea, Apuí and Boca do Acre, in Amazonas.

Indigenist dies while trying to protect isolated indigenous group

Tragedy exposes vulnerability of isolated indigenous peoples

Crédito: Mário Vilela/Funai

9 Sep 20

Indigenist dies while trying to protect isolated indigenous group

The indigenist Rieli Franciscato, 56, died on September 9 when he was hit by an arrow in the chest while monitoring a group of isolated indigenous people in the State of Rondônia. Rieli was a renowned active indigenist in the country, with over 30 years at the service of the National Foundation of the Indian (Funai). He worked to avoid friction between non-indigenous and a indigenous non-contact group known as “Isolados do Cautário[Cautário Isolates]” that appeared near Seringueiras (RO) in June; he was also engaging in preventive actions to avoid exposing the isolates to the coronavirus pandemic.

That day, Rieli went to the scene with two military policemen and an indigenous colleague. The team found and followed footprints that led to Indigenous Land (TI) Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau; already inside the indigenous territory, Rieli was hit in the chest with an arrow and was taken to the hospital, but did not resist the wound. Rieli’s death shocked sertanistas, indigenistas and Funai’s workers. It also exposed the precarious and vulnerable situation of isolated peoples. Ivaneide Bandeira, coordinator of the Association for Ethno-Environmental Defense Kanindé, which she founded together with Rieli in 1992 to protect the indigenous peoples of Rondônia drew attention, in an interview to DW Brasil, to the risk of silent ethnocide among isolated peoples amid the fires. “With the dismantling of the Rio Madeira teams and the entire Funai structure, we don’t even know if they are alive,” she said.

Two weeks later, on September 22, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office (MPF) of Rondônia recommended that Funai and the Special Secretariat for Indigenous Health (Sesai) should create health and safety barriers on the lines of access to the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau Indigenous Territory to protect the isolated peoples of the Cautário River region.

ICMBio agent dies while fighting forest fires in the Cerrado region

Goiás State had a 38,1% increase in fires this year

Credits: Facebook/Reproduction

2 Sep 20

ICMBio agent dies while fighting forest fires in the Cerrado region

Environmental analyst Welington Fernando Peres Silva, a public servant at the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio), died of burn injuries suffered during a fire-fighting operation carried out in Emas National Park, in the cerrado region of Goiás State. He he was battling fires on August 21 when the wind changed direction and he got caught in the middle of the fire. Between August 1 and 31, the State of Goiás recorded 964 hotspots according to state government data, an increase of 38.1% compared to August 2019.

Clash between government and Ministry of the Environment threatens fight against deforestation

VP Hamilton Mourão said that Salles declarations were “hasty”

Crédito: Foto: Romério Cunha/VPR/via Foto Públicas

28 Aug 20

Clash between government and Ministry of the Environment threatens fight against deforestation

The minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, announced the interruption of the fight against forest fires in the Amazon and Pantanal regions — but hours later, went back on his decision. The suspension was motivated by a government block on the ministry’s funding. The cut, due to August 31, would sum up to R$ 60 million reais — but the government also went back on the decision.

Vice president Hamilton Mourão, the president of the Amazon Council, said that Salles actions were “hasty” and guaranteed that the operation will continue. According to the newspaper “Valor Econômico”, the responsible for the budget cuts were military personnel close to president Bolsonaro. The newspaper hinted at reports that say that the situation was seen as an “indirect resignation.

In 2020, fires have already ravaged 10% of Pantanal wetland area

Firefighters try to contain the flames in the Pantanal region

Credits: Mayke Toscano/Secom-MT

20 Aug 20

In 2020, fires have already ravaged 10% of Pantanal wetland area

Between January and August 2020, forest fires have ravaged over 17,500 square kilometers of Pantanal, which sums up to 10% of the total area of the region which encompasses the world’s largest tropical wetland area, and the world’s largest flooded grasslands. 

According to an article by Deutsche Welle, there was an 211% increase in hotspots when compared to the same period in the previous year. It was also the highest rate ever recorded since the National Institute of Space Research (INPE) started monitoring fires in Pantanal, in 1998.  Monitoring reports point to human action as responsible for starting 90% of the fires. Due to a severe dry season, the fire spreads easily when in contact with dry forests and grasslands.

In the first half of 2020, fires ravaged the Pantanal at unprecedented levels

Forest fires in Pantanal rose by 530% when compared to 2019

Credits: Mayke Toscano/Secom-MT/via Fotos Públicas

23 Jul 20

In the first half of 2020, fires ravaged the Pantanal at unprecedented levels

In 2020, between the months of January and June, the Pantanal biome recorded an increase of 530% in forest fires when compared to the same period in 2019. The data comes from an interactive tool from the NGO Instituto Centro de Vida (ICV) who monitors deforestation hotspots in Mato Grosso State over the yearly season when the State government prohibits fires in rural properties. The fires prohibition, usually issued around  July 15th, this year  came earlier, starting on July 1st and running until September 30th 2020.

The data, open for public consultation on the ICV website, also points out that even though the prohibition season started earlier, there was a 12% rise in fires hotspots in July when compared to the same month in the previous year.

A federal order issued by president Jair Bolsonaro and the minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles on July 16th, prohibited the use of fires in rural properties in the Pantanal and Amazonia regions. The measure was considered too late in its purposes to contain deforestation and contains a problematic article that allows burning “in areas outside of the Pantanal and Legal Amazon areas when essential to farming activities.”

Deeds of embargo in environmental infractions drop by 60% in 2020

Ibama team in an inspection operation in Roraima State

Credits: Fernando Augusto/Ibama/via CC

12 Jul 20

Deeds of embargo in environmental infractions drop by 60% in 2020

The deeds of embargo issued by Ibama, Brazilian Environmental control agency to contain deforestation experienced a 60% drop during the first semester of 2020, when compared to 2019.

Deeds of embargo are a control tool with the aim of “formalizing embargoes on construction works or projects to paralyse the environmental infractions, prevent new violations, safeguard environmental recovery and guarantee due legal process”. 

According to the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, it’s the second time Brazil experiences such a drop. In 2019, there was a 40% reduction on emissions of deeds of embargo when compared to the first half of 2018. The public data is available online, but experts alert that it might not be complete. Elizabeth Eriko Uema, executive-secretary of the National Association of Environmental Public Servants (Ascema) said that there is “a gag law” in place to stop  public servants from speaking up about the problems on the environmental control and governance structures under Bolsonaro’s administration.

“The deeds of embargoes are a more effective measure than fines in terms of environmental control purposes”, said Suely Araújo, former president  of Ibama and now a spokesperson for the NGO Climate Observatory (Observatório do Clima).

Brazil’s VP says that the country is “late” to fight Amazon’ deforestation

Vice President Mourão criticizes MMA’s survey systems

Credits: Marcello Casal Jr/Agência Brasil

10 Jul 20

Brazil’s VP says that the country is “late” to fight Amazon’ deforestation

After a meeting with CEOs from several large Brazilian corporations, Brazil’s vice president Hamilton Mourão declared to the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo that the government actions to fight deforestation and forest fires in the Amazon were “late”.

He recalled the Amazon Council, presided by him, which the government launched in February. He stated the actions “should have started in December or January, at the latest”. NGOs and environmentalists have been criticizing the council for its lack of a clear agenda or budget.

VP Mourão also blamed the coronavirus pandemic for lack of investments in land use monitoring systems. However,  the National Institute of Space Research (Inpe) keeps raising deforestation alerts that the government chooses to ignore”, according to the NGO Greenpeace. Ibama, the Brazilian Environmental Agency,  uses Inpe’s alerts to fight forest fires and other environmental crimes. During April 2020, the alerts by the System of Deforestation Detection in Real Time (Deter) rose by 64% when compared to the same month in 2019.

The government’s budget for the Ministry of the Environment suffered a 10% cut from 2019 to 2020, affecting the prevention and control of forest fires. 

An analysis published in December 2019 had already shown that the Ministry of the Environment did not spend a cent of the authorized R$ 8 million budget from the National Fund on Climate Change, destined to produce studies, projects and enterprises to mitigate and adapt to climate change. 

Ricardo Salles, the minister of the environment, also attended the meeting to speak about carbon credits defined by the Paris Agreement. 

Federal Prosecution Office files legal action to exonerate the Minister of the Environment

Ricardo Salles is targeted by prosecutors for dismantling his ministry’s structure

Credits: Valter Campanato/Agência Brasil

6 Jul 20

Federal Prosecution Office files legal action to exonerate the Minister of the Environment

The Federal Public Prosecution Office (MPF) has filed a legal request asking for the removal of the Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles,  due to administrative misconduct. The claim, signed by 12 prosecutors, cites a series of measures led by Salles aiming at disorganizing and destabilizing environmental policies and nullifying legal precepts, such as not using the Ministry’s budget in 2019, attacking the Amazon Fund and firing public servants from Ibama, Brazilian Environmental control agency).

“We can identify, looking at the measures adopted by the minister, an alignment to a set of acts that answer to a logic that is completely backwards to the purposes of the state in guaranteeing environmental rights. This is explicit when we look at the exonerations of Ibama’s public servants right after a successful environmental inspection operation in a critical area of deforestation in the Legal Amazon”, says the MPF.

The case mentioned by the prosecution office refers to the dismissal of three Ibama coordinators after command and control operations to fight environmental crimes inside indigenous territories in Ituna Itatá, Apyterewa, Trincheira-Bacajá e Cachoeira Seca, municipality of Altamira, in Amazon Pará state – the region is located in the area of influence of the Belo Monte hydropower plant. Over 100 machinery and equipment used by gangs of land grabbers, deforesters and gold diggers were apprehended and destroyed by the Ibama agents – a higher number than the entire toll of destroyed machinery for the year of 2019. 

The lawsuit also quotes the ministerial meeting on April 22nd, when Salles suggested the government should take advantage of the pandemic to further deregulate public policies. According to the MPF, this makes his purposes “transparent and straying away from his duty as a minister of the Environment.”

International investors write open letter to Brazilian embassies with concerns about environmental policies

Document mentions Salles speech about deregulating environmental norms

Crédito: Eduardo Frederiksen/iStock

23 Jun 20

International investors write open letter to Brazilian embassies with concerns about environmental policies

An international business and investment group, controlling R$ 20 trillion of funds, wrote an open letter to Brazilian embassies in the United States, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, United Kingdom, France and Netherlands. The document expresses concern over deforestation rates in Brazil and the behaviour of the minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles. The letter quotes minister Salles leaked remarks at a cabinet meeting in April, when he said that the government should take advantage of the public attention to the pandemic to deregulate environmental laws.

According to the website G1, the investors group wants to contribute with the conciliation between the economic development and environment conservation. They ask the Brazilian government to “show firm commitment with eliminating deforestation and protecting indigenous people’s rights”.

Amazon deforestation alerts rise by 63,75%  in comparison to 2019

Illegal logging at the Indigenous Land Pirititi

Crédito: Felipe Werneck/Ibama/CC BY-SA 2.0

8 May 20

Amazon deforestation alerts rise by 63,75% in comparison to 2019

Data from the National Institute of Space Research (Inpe) shows that the Amazon deforestation alerts transmitted by the System of Detection of Deforestation in Real Time (Deter) rose by 64,75% in April, compared to the same month in 2019. The Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama) uses the Deter alerts to monitor and substantiate their inspections and control operations. Greenpeace said that the government “ignores” the alerts and “weakens the environmental control with the exoneration of Ibama’s personnel”. When president Bolsonaro took office, in February 2019, the Ministry of the Environment exonerated 21 from 27 regional Ibama inspectors. By the end of 2019, the number of environmental fines had dropped by 34% when compared to the previous year, the lowest record in the past 24 years.

The increase in deforestation alerts happened even though on April 7th, president Bolsonaro had issued a Law and Order Guarantee (GLO) decree that authorized sending army troops to fight forest fires in the Legal Amazon. GLO missions only occur, according to Brazil’s legislation, when “traditional public security forces resources have been exhausted” and can only be executed via presidential sanction.

Minister of the Environment is expelled from political party and pleads allegiance to Bolsonaro

May 7th, 2020

Crédito: Twitter/Reprodução

7 May 20

Minister of the Environment is expelled from political party and pleads allegiance to Bolsonaro

Ricardo Salles, the minister of the Environment, was expelled from the political party Novo. The party’s ethics commission didn’t publicize the reason. João Amoedo, Novo’s president”, wished Salles success in his future ventures and that he hopes that he “will start to make choices based on ideas, principles and values.”. In August 2019, three members of Novo requested Salles expulsion due to the minister’s performance regarding Amazon forest fires. In his Twitter page, Salles clarified that the expulsion happened because he accepted to be the minister of environment without consulting the party or asking for permission. He once again swore his allegiance to the president. “Between Amoedo and Bolsonaro, I’ll stay with Bolsonaro”, he wrote.

Joe Biden warns Bolsonaro about Amazon conservation

Joe Biden is running for president in the USA

Créditos: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA

16 Mar 20

Joe Biden warns Bolsonaro about Amazon conservation

In an interview to Americas Quarterly magazine, democratic candidate Joe Biden answered a question about the role of the USA regarding the protection of the Amazon rainforest. “President Bolsonaro must know that if Brazil fails in its responsibility of being Amazon’s guardian, my government will unite the world to protect the environment,”, he said.

Torrential rains in Brazil’s Southeast point to the effects of climate change

Inpe fala em “alteração do ciclo hidrológico” brasileiro

Crédito: Ranimiro Lotufo Neto/iStock

13 Feb 20

Torrential rains in Brazil’s Southeast point to the effects of climate change

Since early January, the Southeast states of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Espírito Santos and Minas Gerais have been hit by a series of torrential rains. On February 9, it rained the equivalent of 42% of what was expected for the entire month. In Minas Gerais State alone, 100 cities were put on alert level , 59 people died and 45,000 were displaced.

According to Paulo Nobre, coordinator of the Brazilian Model of Terrestrial System (BESM), of the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe), the rains were not episodic and point to the effects of climate change. “In Brazil, the change in the hydrological cycle is happening now. It is not a thing for 2100”, he said, in an interview with National Geographic Brasil.

If the authorities and government don’t act immediately, Nobre believes that the North, Northeast and part of the Midwest regions will suffer from reduced rainfall and longer droughts, which may increase the number of forest fires. “In the South and Southeast, the tendency of the biomes represented there is that more extreme and lasting droughts also occur, interspersed with very rainy periods”, he projects.

“Forest fires are a cultural thing”

Once again, president shows contempt for environmental protection

Crédito: G1/Reproduction

20 Nov 19

“Forest fires are a cultural thing”

In a meeting with the press, president Bolsonaro was asked if he talked to the  Minister of  the Environment about the increase in Amazon deforestation in 2019 as reported by INPE a few days earlier. ‘You are not going to put an end to deforestation or to the fires, it’s a cultural thing. I saw Marina Silva criticising the day before yesterday. In her time, we had the highest level of illicit in the Amazon region,” declared the president. Marina Silva was Minister of the Environment between 2003 and 2008; in a tweet on November 18th, she said: “The President has no commitment to the truth. As Minister of the Environment, I implemented a Plan to Prevent and Control deforestation in the Amazon that reduced the deforestation rate in 80% from 2004-2012”.

Environmental management actions are paralyzed; Ibama cuts inspections by 22%

Ibama team fights deforestation at Indigenous Land Tenharim do Igarapé Preto, in 2018

Vinícius Mendonça/Ibama/via CC BY-SA 2.0

11 Sep 19

Environmental management actions are paralyzed; Ibama cuts inspections by 22%

Data indicates that the Bolsonaro government, in its first eight months, froze environmental programs management. According to a report by the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, the ministry of the Environment committed only  R$1.17 million to develop its priority activities. In 2018, the amount was R$35.6 million reais. Among the areas with unused resources are prevention and control of deforestation, climate change and urban environmental agenda.

The National Policy on Climate Change, for example, which had R$10.4 million in its approved budget, spent only R$122 thousand. The government was supposed to deliver a plan to implement the targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which has not yet occurred.

The Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama), linked to the Ministry, also showed a 22% reduction in the inspection operations planned in the National Annual Environmental Protection Plan (Pnapa). In April, the government cut the agency’s budget by 31%.

Ibama’s team is shot by gold diggers during operation in Pará State

Flight over Indigenous Land Ituna/Itatá reveals gold digging camps and forest fires

Crédito: Fábio Nascimento/Greenpeace

29 Aug 19

Ibama’s team is shot by gold diggers during operation in Pará State

During a control operation near the Ituna / Itatá Indigenous Land, in Altamira, Amazon Pará State, gold diggers opened fire at a team of federal agents from the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama). Members of the Federal Police and the National Public Security Force who were part of the operation shot back, but there were no injuries reported. The perpetrators of the attack hid in the woods and were not arrested.

Hugo Loss, the Ibama official responsible for the operation, told Reuters that they apprehended and destroyed two backhoes and three motors that were used in the camp. According to Loss, there’s a significant rise in land grabbing in the region, which increases  deforestation in the Ituna / Itatá Indigenous Land, which is located in the influence area of the Belo Monte hydropower plant.

Cerrado burns

Matopiba region, that encompasses Maranhã, Tocatins, Piauí and Bahia States, is considered a “showcase” for Brazil’s Agribusiness

Crédito: Ibama/Divulgação/via O Eco

11 Jun 19

Cerrado burns

The Cerrado has lost  almost half of its native vegetation  and  continues to be threatened by monoculture and cattle ranching  expansion with the support of the government. According to INPE, the biome lost 7.697 km2 of vegetation in the last year. The destruction of the Cerrado happens at a more intense pace  than Amazon’s deforestation. In  the past 5 years, Cerrado lost 56.300 km2 of native coverage, while the Amazon (twice the size) lost 35.800km2. The main deforestation hotspot in the Cerrado is the Matopiba region, seen as the last agricultural haven in Brazil. According to a Greenpeace report,  486.000 km2 of native Cerrado had  been turned into pasture for cattle until 2017.

Former ministers release statement criticizing Bolsonaro’s environmental policies

Former ministers of the Environment during a meeting in São Paulo University

Crédito: Leonor Calasans/IEA-USP/Handout

8 May 19

Former ministers release statement criticizing Bolsonaro’s environmental policies

In a historic and unprecedented reunion, seven former ministers of the environment, who worked for the past 5 federal administrations in almost 30 years, gathered at the University of São Paulo to publish a joint statement repudiating Bolsonaro’s government policies for the environment. In the document, the former officials write that current policies “compromise Brazil’s image and credibility in the international arena” and demand a “permanent and constructive dialogue” between the government and civil society. Besides criticising the administrative reforms and budget cuts at the Ministry of the Environment, the statement also underlines the climate denial narrative, the frequent attacks on scientists monitoring deforestation and against Ibama agents, the risk of increased deforestation and forest fires and the trend to weaken licensing processes and parameters. Minister Salles responded on the same day with a written note to the press, where he basically dismissed all the risks or blamed them on the previous administrations. As the year went on, most of the risks identified by the former ministers in their document became a reality. 

Mass agents discharges at Ibama

Ibama during an inspection against illegal logging in Espigão do Oeste, Rondônia State, in July, 2018

Crédito: Fernando Augusto/Ibama/via CC BY-SA 2.0

28 Feb 19

Mass agents discharges at Ibama

The Minister of the Environment exonerated 21 out of 27 regional inspectors from the main environmental controlling agency in Brazil, Ibama. The regional inspectors act as supervisory bodies at the state level, leading inspections and applying fines but also preventing and responding to environmental emergencies – such as forest fires. In over 30 years of Ibama’s existence, this was the largest collective change of leadership at the institution. The names of the new supervisors were not revealed immediately. 

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