Deforestation in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil has more than doubled in January as compared to the previous year, according to Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE) reports. The official data further revealed that more than 280 square kilometres were cleared which is an increase of 108 per cent. It was reportedly the largest area cleared in the month of January since 2015 as last year 136 square kilometres were cleared.
According to official reports, 183 square kilometres in 2018 was cleared and 58 square kilometres in 2017. The INPE data published in mid-January further found that deforestation in the Amazon in northern Brazil had soared 85 per cent in 2019, clearing 9,166 square kilometres which is the highest number in at least five years. The sharp increase also overlapped the first year in office of President Jair Bolsonaro, who reportedly eased restrictions on exploiting the Amazon's vast riches.
Earlier this week, Bolsonaro sparked controversy with the introduction of a bill that could see the start mining operations in the Amazon Rainforest. In a controversial statement, Bolsonaro called it his 'dream' and said he wants to see it 'come true'. The bill proposed by Bolsonaro on February 5 would not only allow mining but also farming and hydroelectric power projects that were previously prohibited in the protected regions of the world's largest rainforest.
Even though the bill has not been approved yet, if the legislation passes, it would further pave the way for agriculture and tourism on those lands. The country's administration has reportedly not disclosed the details of the bill. The uproar among the indigenous people was first caused due to the announcement at Funai.
The dissatisfaction further grew among the indigenous groups as the Brazillian government appointed a former evangelical missionary, Ricardo Lopes Dias, to the head the government department responsible for the protection of isolated groups in the country which is also home to 100 uncontacted indigenous tribes.
According to international reports, in interviews with the Brazilian media, Dias has ensured that he would not harm the indigenous communities and would not evangelize them. Instead, he asserted that he would be purely technical, and also defended the knowledge of indigenous groups. Dias further insisted that there has been prejudiced against him because of his faith.