Published On: Thu, Aug 22nd, 2019

Amazon rainforest fire: Brazil federal prosecutors open official investigation into fires | World | News

Criticism toward Brazil and President Jair Bolsonaro has continued to grow around the world in response to the catastrophic wildfires tearing through the Amazon rainforest. Now Brazil federal prosecutors have opened an investigation into the surge in deforestation and fires in the Amazon. The prosecutors said on Thursday they will investigate a spike in deforestation and wildfires raging in the Amazon state of Para to determine whether there has been reduced monitoring and enforcement of environmental protections.

The investigation announced by the prosecutors office in Para follows a surge in fires and destruction of the Amazon rainforest that experts blame on reduced protection of the environment under right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro.

This comes as a petition was launched on calling for Brazil’s government to take action on the fires.

The petition at the time of writing had gained more than 400,000 signatures since it began a day ago.

Brazil’s space research centre, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE), detected 72,843 fires in the Amazon this year alone, marking an 83 percent surge compared to the same period in 2018.

Philip Fearnside, a professor at Brazil’s National Institute of Amazonian Research said: “It’s very important to keep repeating these concerns.

“There are a number of tipping points which are not far away.

Read More: Amazon rainforest fire area: How much of Amazon Rainforest has burned?

“We can’t see exactly where they are, but we know they are very close.

“It means we have to do things right away. Unfortunately, that is not what is happening. There are people denying we even have a problem.”

President Bolsonaro came under criticism for laying blame on NGO’s for starting the fires in a Facebook Live stream on Wednesday.

Mr Bolsonaro said: “Everything indicates” that NGOs were going to the Amazon to “set fire” to the forest.

Read More: Sao Paolo turns BLACK as city swamped in smoke from rainforest fire

He added: “As NGOs lose funding … What can they do?

“Try to take me down, try to take me down. That’s all that’s left for them to do.”

In a second Facebook Live appearance, the president denied blaming NGO’s for the fires.

Mr Bolsonaro also said on Thursday Brazil did not have the resources to tackle the fires.

Read More: Amazon rainforest fire: What is being done to stop Amazon fires?

He asked reporters: “The Amazon is bigger than Europe, how will you fight criminal fires in such an area?

“We do not have the resources for that.”

Fires in the Amazon have surged 83 percent so far this year compared to the same period a year earlier, government figures show, destroying vast swathes of forest considered a vital defence against climate change.

Although fires are a regular and natural occurrence during the regular dry season at this time of year, environmentalists blamed the sharp rise on farmers setting the forest alight to clear land for pasture.

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