Images show large-scale illegal fires in the Amazon rainforest 


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São Paulo, August 2, 2021 –  Shocking new aerial photos captured by Greenpeace Brazil show large-scale illegal fires being used to clear land in the Amazon as satellite data today also confirms thousands of fires are burning at the end of the first month of the dry season. 

4,977 fire hotspots were registered in July, the same month that a study in Nature revealed parts of the Amazon now emit more carbon than they absorb. 

Fires are part of the process of land clearance and follow deforestation to prepare it for cattle or crops. With official data (deforestation alerts) for the first half of 2021 confirming an increase in deforestation of 17.1% compared to the same period in 2020, it is feared the worst fires are yet to come. [1]

This week the Brazilian Congress returns after a two-week break and has prioritised voting on the Land Regularisation Bill (or “land grabbing bill” – 2633/2020). This is one of a suite of bills that make up what NROs are calling the “Destruction Package”. If passed they will severely weaken laws protecting the Amazon as well as threatening the very existence of Indigenous Peoples. [2]

With 51% of the first half of 2021’s deforestation occurring on public lands (Undesignated Public Forests, Conservation Areas, and Indigenous Lands), it seems the bills are already having an impact on where forest criminals choose to focus their attention. If passed, it will encourage further invasion and destruction of public lands due to expectation of regularisation in the future. 

Cristiane Mazzetti, Amazon campaigner at Greenpeace Brazil, said:
“Our photos document the result of Bolsonaro’s agenda to sabotage environmental enforcement in Brazil ever since taking office in 2019. It’s criminal that this remains a priority for Bolsonaro, as well as for the Brazilian Congress, above the health, climate or biodiversity crises. World governments should seek to challenge it in the strongest terms. 

“International food companies buying from those profiting from agricultural expansion in Brazil must also look at the consequences of their investment.”

In the UK, supermarkets and fast food retailers are still linked to Amazon deforestation through their supply chains. 

Anna Jones, Greenpeace UK head of forests and food, said:
“Meat is the biggest driver of forest destruction and yet our UK supermarkets are still buying from companies linked to Amazon forest destroyers. Tesco, Aldi, Sainsbury’s – they are all guilty, and still steadfastly refusing to act. 

“UK government must also step up its response to this crisis by closing loopholes in proposed legislation to prevent all deforestation entering UK supply chains. Current proposals deal only with illegal deforestation meaning anything deemed ‘legal’ by the Brazilian government – which is looking set to increase exponentially – will still be permitted.”



Notes to editor: 

[1] Data shows an area totalling 3,610 km2 had been deforested at the end of June – 17.1% higher than the same period in 2020.

[2] More information on proposed weakening of Brazil’s environmental legislation 

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