Brazil’s Environment Ministry announced that the country’s government has released the funds required for fighting deforestation in the Amazon. The ministry, while making the announcement, reportedly also added that the enforcement and implementation operations will continue as normal. This development comes after the ministry’s earlier announcement of suspending all operations to combat deforestation as funding for those operations had been blocked.
As per reports, Brazil's Vice President Hamilton Mourão quickly refuted the ministry’s statement of halting operations to combat deforestation, reportedly saying that’s not going to happen, and adding that the efforts would continue. Mourão, who was put in charge of the country’s Amazon response by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, also denied claims of the funds being blocked. He also reportedly accused Brazilian Environment Minister Ricardo Salles of acting too soon on the matter.
Mourão reportedly said that the environment minister jumped the gun and there will not be a blockage of 60 million reais ($11.1 million) dedicated to Ibama and ICMBio. He also added that the environment ministry’s announcement was based on incomplete and unfinalized planning document. In an effort to help the people of Brazil, the Vice President also stated that the Brazil government is looking to take money out of almost every ministry in order to fund emergency aid payments which the Brazilians are receiving during the economic downturn due to ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The environment ministry plays an important role in combating deforestation with teams frequently deployed on risky missions to catch illegal loggers and miners in the world’s largest rainforest. The original announcement by ministry made on August 28 came amid rising deforestation and growing criticism of Brazil’s environmental policy from environmental groups and international investors.
The ministry cited a decision by Brazil’s Federal Budget Secretariat (SOF) in order to block certain funds that had been given to the Environment Ministry’s enforcement arm Ibama and parks service ICMBio. The ministry, in its announcement, also stated that the SOF’s decision was ordered by the office of the chief of staff for the Brazilian President.
As per reports, many investors have threatened to pull out of the country if the government does not better protect the Amazon, where preliminary government data states that deforestation has grown nearly 35 per cent over the 12 months through July. Amazon region has been witnessing raging fires. According to data published by the Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP), 516 fires covering 376,416 hectares have been detected between May 28 and August 25. Apart from the Amazon, fires are also widespread in the Pantanal, South America’s largest wetland.
(Image credit: AP)