Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has ordered the country’s military forces to help out in fire-fighting in various parts of the Amazon Forest. In a decree he stated that soldiers be sent to natural reserve areas, indigenous lands and frontier zones to help control the fires.
It seems the decision was prompted by pressure being applied on the Brazilian leader by various EU leaders including the French President, Emmanuel Macron. On his part, Bolsonaro criticised the reactions of various countries and insisted the fires should not be used as an excuse to impose sanctions on Brazil.
This followed after France and Ireland warned that unless Brazil makes greater efforts to control the fires they would not ratify commercial agreements with South American countries.
TVM spoke with biologist Sandro Lanfranco regarding the importance of the Amazon region to the world and why the forest fires there are causing such a reaction of anger and protests.
He said the territorial spread of the Amazon is almost as large as Europe, almost three quarters of Europe which is an extensive area and difficult to imagine. It is covered with trees but as is happening in other places throughout the world, some trees are being purposely burnt to enable some people to make a commercial profit. This is affecting our future, our forests, animals and plants.
Lanfranco said that currently this is the dry season for the Amazon Forest and some fires occur naturally. However, this year’s fires are double that of previous years. The Amazon crisis is further complicated because extensive areas of trees are being destroyed so that wood is sold or the burnt land used for farming and the rearing of animals.
Satellite pictures show many zones of burning trees these fires having developed over a short period of time. Estimates state that the equivalent of five football grounds of trees is burning every minute with smoke from the fires reaching distant Brazilian towns.
He said the area is of world heritage and not solely that of South American countries mainly because the forests are home to many different species of animals some of which have not even been discovered yet and would be new to science. The forests also offer many other services that are important to mankind, including cleaner air.
Lanfranco added that forest trees produce a certain amount of oxygen but also use much carbon dioxide which currently is the blame for climate changes. He said the Amazon environment is so varied that once destroyed it will be destroyed forever.
He said some say trees are being cut down but that is no problem because new ones will soon grow in a few years. However, this is not true. The Amazon Forest needs a lot of watering and this creates its own climate and is so vast that burnt areas remain dry and this makes it difficult for new trees to grow.
With the Amazon region being looked upon as the world’s lung, many leaders are applying pressure on the Brazilian Government, including pressure from European countries. Finland is contemplating prohibiting the import of meat from Brazil.
Lanfranco ended by saying that with or without the actions of mankind, the Earth is still going through a period of becoming hotter because it is still emerging from the ice age that came to an end about 18,000 years ago. He said that since industrialisation, the actions of mankind, including the burning of fossils for energy and the cutting of trees, among other actions, these create a gas that speed the rate of the world becoming hotter and this is creating a great environmental repercussion throughout the world.