Brasília (dpa) - In view of the devastating forest fires in Brazil, the government has banned the burning of land during the dry season.
For a period of 60 days from Thursday no more fires may be laid, for example, to tap pasture and arable land on deforested land, it is said in a decree published in the Official Journal.
However, exemptions are available to indigenous communities that grow crops for self-sufficiency and to fires that have been approved by the relevant environmental authorities for the purpose of fire prevention, fire-fighting or plant health.
In Brazil, the heaviest fires are raging for years. Since the beginning of the year, almost 85,000 fires have been recorded in the South American country - 75 percent more than in the same period last year. About half of the fires occurred in the Amazon region, one third in the Cerrado savanna in southeastern Brazil. In the nine states of the Amazon, the number of fires even doubled compared to last year.
In the opinion of environmentalists, farmers are usually setting fire to deforested land in order to create new grazing land and farmland for soybean cultivation. Because of the dry season, however, the fires also repeatedly attack intact forest areas. Critics accuse the right-wing President, Jair Bolsonaro, of having created a climate where farmers feel encouraged to burn more and more.
Bolsonaro sees above all unexploited economic potential in the Amazon rainforest and wants to open up more land for agriculture, mining and energy production. Because of his environmental policy, he had recently come into international criticism. Because the rainforest in the Amazon can bind immense amounts of CO2, it also has great significance for the global climate.
Several European countries now want to slow down in the ratification of the new free trade agreement between the EU and the South American economic alliance Mercosur. At the same time, however, the G7 countries also offered assistance to Brazil in terms of firefighting and reforestation. Bolsonaro, in turn, forbade interference in his country's internal affairs and insisted on Brazil's sovereignty.
However, given the international pressure, he approved the use of the military inside. Thousands of soldiers are now supporting the firefighting operations in the Amazon and are following arsonists. «The balance is positive. We can see that the number of fires has dropped significantly, "said Vice Admiral Ralph Dias da Silveira.
G1 report (Portuguese)
Decree in the Official Journal, in Portuguese
Report Agencia Brasil