Faced with increasing pressure from foreign investors and domestic companies, the brazilian government has banned the burning of areas in the amazon and the pantanal for 120 days.
The decree, signed by environment minister ricardo salles and president jair bolsonaro, was published on thursday in the official gazette "diario oficial" and also came into force that day. Observers interpret the move as another attempt by the government to improve brazil’s image abroad.
On wednesday, vice president hamilton mourao had said the country’s armed forces could remain in amazonia until 2022 to fight deforestation and fires. The decree does, however, make exceptions for controlled fires for agricultural purposes outside the amazon and pantanal regions. Farmers use the fire to clear the soil cheaply and reclaim already deforested land for agriculture and cattle breeding. The amazon region recorded the worst fires for the month in 13 years in june.
After 2019, when the destruction of the world’s largest rainforest increased dramatically and provoked international criticism, bolsonaro had again come under increasing criticism in recent weeks, and the pressure from the business community increased. Mourao held a video conference with european investors. According to a media report, 38 brazilian and foreign companies had previously called on the government to take concrete steps against deforestation. Companies are clearly concerned about the image of latin america’s largest economy.
Whether brazil will now actually increase its efforts against deforestation is questionable. Environmentalists say banning fires alone won’t work. Daniela montalto of greenpeace brasil, referring to the 120-day decree, said, "monitoring the environment, stopping the destruction and enforcing the law – which bolsonaro continues to systematically dismantle – is essential."