Anyone who thought that the environment could recover a little during the Covid 19 epidemic did the math without Brazil. There, the destruction of the Amazon region, the green lung of the earth, continues – even faster than before.
- The destruction in the Brazilian Amazon region is increasing dramatically during the corona pandemic.
- For example, 1200 square kilometers of rainforest were cleared in the first quarter.
- This corresponds to an increase of 55 percent compared to the same period in the previous year.
- The Brazilian president sees the area as an economic area to exploit.
While the Brazilian economy is at a standstill, the devastation in the Amazon region in the shadow of the Covid 19 pandemic is increasing dramatically. The National Institute for Space Research Inpe, which evaluates satellite images, registered 1200 square kilometers of deforested rainforest for the first quarter. This corresponds to an increase of 55 percent compared to the same period in the previous year.
“Illegal loggers don’t make a home office,” said Rômulo Batista, Greenpeace spokesman for Brazil, the German news agency DPA. “It is therefore certain that the pandemic will only intensify the already critical situation of the rainforest and the indigenous peoples living in it in the Brazilian Amazon region,” says the country report of the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation in Brazil.
Targeted weakening of the environmental agency
However, while lumberjacks, gold seekers and other fortune-seekers in the Amazon continue to pursue their illegal activities, the corona crisis is restricting environmental officials in their work. However: The environmental agency Ibama has deliberately weakened right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro since taking office in January 2019. Staff and controls were massively reduced.
In December, Bolsonaro introduced the provisional measure MP-910, also known as the “land grabbing” law; the legislative project could be dealt with in Congress in the coming days. It would legalize illegal logging and illegal occupation of public land before 2018 – a total of 570,000 square kilometers, more than the area of Spain.
“They assume that they will go unpunished” »
Deforestation was already very high in 2019 compared to previous years. Critics accuse President Jair Bolsonaro of encouraging lumberjacks, gold miners and farmers to deforest and take over land. “And people are entering our areas because they assume they will get away with it,” complained Cacique Kawore, for example, from a protected indigenous area in Pará.
Just a few months after Bolsonaro took office, the indigenous people felt the first effects. Although intruders illegally cleared forest in their protected area, the state authorities stopped pursuing complaints. “May, June, July, August and September last year were some of the worst months ever,” says Gabriel Lui, coordinator of the Land Use and Food Systems division at the “Instituto Clima e Sociedade” in Rio. Plump, dark green rainforest and then deforested or burned areas could be seen in many places in the Amazon.
While indigenous peoples regard the land as “mother earth” and use it for life, large landowners, lumberjacks, gold prospectors, power plant builders and soybean growers want to access its wealth. Bolsonaro also sees the Amazon as an economic area to exploit. This also means: no longer identify indigenous areas, reduce the size of existing areas and release them for mining.
The novel corona virus is spreading ever more rapidly in Brazil. With 17,408 new infections and 1179 deaths within 24 hours, the authorities reported new record values. The number of confirmed infections rose to 271,628. The largest country in South America has had the most cases worldwide since Monday after the USA and Russia. For the first time, it also recorded more than 1,000 deaths related to the virus in one day, the previous high on May 12 was 881 deaths. In total, 17,971 people have died in Brazil because of Covid-19.