How is it then that the devastation increases even during the corona crisis when the world economy is running at a low ebb? Experts point to two main causes. First, the Bolsonaro government has limited the room for maneuver of the authorities responsible for mapping and stopping illegal deforestation.
Second, the pandemic's travel restrictions have made it even more difficult for the authorities to be present in the Amazon and keep track of logging.Investors press Bolsonaro
It is not the government that is responsible for the actual felling. On the other hand, Bolsonaro's talk about promoting economic expansion and that it is Brazil's alone what the country does with its natural areas is interpreted as a green light by many to break new ground.
But international protests against developments in the Amazon are increasing. A number of heavy investors in the multi-billion class - including the Swedish Seventh AP Fund - wrote a unique open letter to Bolsonaro in June with the threat of withdrawing their investments in the country if the government does not show vigor against the devastation.
The outcome gave quick results. Brazil's vice president issued a 120-day fire ban in the Amazon to avoid a recurrence of last year's fires, which were an international public relations disaster for the country.High economic price
At the same time, 36 large Brazilian companies are warning the government of missing trade agreements and a high economic price unless environmental policy changes. The South American trade bloc Mercosur's free trade agreement with the EU, which took 20 years to complete, is now on ice.
Several European countries refuse to give the green light in protest against the devastation of the rainforest. The pressure on Brazil is expected to increase further after new reports link Brazilian exports to harvesting in sensitive environmental areas.Reports link exports to felling
According to a recent article in the journal Science, 22 percent of soy and 17 percent of beef exported to Europe from the Amazon and the Brazilian savannah can be linked to illegal logging. And a report from the human rights organization Amnesty shows how logging in the Amazon is directly linked to the meat industry.
Poor settlers cut down trees, burn the ground and sow grass for grazing. Then they sell the land to cattle breeders. The meat from the animals has in several cases since entered the world's largest meat producer JBS's food chain."Get results"
Last year's outrage over the fires in the Amazon yielded few results. But if there's one point where Bolsonaro is sensitive, it's the economy. The president has promised his voters growth and his strategy for car re-election in 2022 depends on delivering on that point.
Increased economic pressure may therefore force Bolsonaro to change its environmental policy. In order to avoid being punished financially, Brazil should at least present measures that signal that the government takes the climate issue seriously.
As always in the giant country, the big challenge will be to see if it really gives results on the ground.