Brazil's Bolsonaro readies troops to fight Amazon rainforest destruction

by Reuters
Thursday, 7 May 2020 14:25 GMT

FILE PHOTO: Logs cut from the Amazon rainforest are laid out near the BR-319 highway in the city of Realidade, Amazonas state, Brazil, August 22, 2019. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

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Troops will be sent into the Amazon region to fight fires and combat illegal logging

By Jake Spring

BRASILIA, May 7 (Reuters) - Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday authorized deployment of armed forces into the Amazon region to fight fires and deforestation, three months earlier than in 2019, after a jump in destruction in the world's largest rainforest.

Last year, Bolsonaro waited until August to send troops into the region, following international outcry over a wave of fires in the rainforest, which traps vast amounts of greenhouse gases that cause climate change.

The order is effective from May 11 to June 10, but can be extended to 60 days in total, as Bolsonaro did last year.

Vice President Hamilton Maurao said last week that the government planned to send in the military as part of a plan to establish bases in the Amazon to fight deforestation.

Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon in the first three months of 2020 rose 51% from a year earlier. The first quarter coincides with the rainy season when destruction usually eases as loggers are deterred by the weather.

Environmental advocates say the military's presence should deter illegal destruction of the rainforest in the short term, but argue the armed forces cannot replace the permanent oversight of environmental agencies. (Reporting by Jake Spring Editing by Brad Haynes and Paul Simao)

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