Destroy the Amazon forest? This is a dangerous business for whole guys. Siehausen of mosquitoes buzzing in impromptu camps in the forest, handle without protective clothing with gigantic chainsaws, drive load tractors full of timber wood over torrential rivers on dilapidated bridges. You can see it all, because the "Máfia da Tora", the tree trunk mafia, has its own social media presence. The men are proud of their work and admit it, the more adventurous, the better. In Brazil, hardly a lumberjack is afraid to show his face on the internet.
The Amazon forest continues to be sawn and flared these days. But looking at the disappearance of the forest from the outside and the view on the ground could not be more different. Over the past few weeks, the world media has reported on the tens of thousands of fires that are decimating this largest contiguous piece of primeval forest on Earth. Politicians from many countries protested against the massive increase in deforestation rates in Brazil, which was 222 percent higher in August than in the same month of the previous year. France, Ireland, Austria and Luxembourg have intervened to put the planned free trade agreement between the EU and the South American Mercosur region on ice - because of tree felling and the fire.
"You call me Captain Chainsaw"
But in Brazil, deforestation is much less likely to provoke people - and at least half of the population behind the far-right president of the country, Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro and his team think that progressing Roden is a good thing. Bolsonaro himself wants a speedy economic development of the area and mocks the concerns of environmentalists and environmentalists. ("They call me Captain Chainsaw," he joked about his critics in São Paulo this August.) His Environment Minister Ricardo Salles visited a gathering of lumberjacks in July, calling them "the good hard workers" of his country.
And the international fuss over the major fires parried the government with increasingly bizarre denials: the Amazon forest was "untouched," said Bolsonaroim before the United Nations in September - although since the 1970s, already 20 percent of it disappeared. The televised images of the Amazon bonfires he once put into benevolent non-governmental organizations in the shoes that would have acted as arsonists to get more attention. Sometimes he blamed indigenous peoples for the fires or simply called them "media lies". The head of the national satellite agency, who warned against the rapidly progressing deforestation, set Bolsonaro down quickly.
At the same time - where the Amazonas fires from the world news have disappeared again - the true connections become clearer and clearer. "The lumberjacks feel empowered in the meantime!" "They think Bolsonaro will allow them everything now!" This is what these days are being heard by environmental protection officials in Ibama - underhand, because the government in Brazil has banned employees of these authorities from speaking to the media. Lumberjacks like the Máfia da Tora and their clients - regional land speculators and cattle farmers looking for new grazing grounds - are taking advantage of the new times to capture the untouched forests. The biggest part of this deforestation is illegal - but the Amazon has the impression that it does not matter.
Where it burns was previously cut down
It is now clear that the big fires on the Amazon are man-made - and a direct consequence of deforestation. Amazon researchers can prove this well by comparing the locations of the fires with the satellite surveys of the recent deforestation. The process is always the same: first the big old trees are sawn, taken out of the forest and sold. Then, with a heavy chain, usually pulled by two caterpillars, the narrower trees are brought down. After a few weeks of dry season, the area is set on fire. Exactly this process was to be seen this year to a record extent on the satellite images and aerial photographs.
Where a fire burns today was cut down in April, May or June. And since the logging speed has continued to increase according to the satellite data since then, more major fires are to be expected. The number of fires in September seems to have declined somewhat because some parts of the forest are being cleared more intensively and because of temporary rainfall. However, this only applies to the Amazon region - in the adjacent biotopes such as the Cerrado savannah and the marshland Pantanal continue to increase the fire. And even in the Amazon, the fire-threatening dry season lasts until November.