Bolsonaro Bans Land-clearing Fires in Amazon for 60 Days
By Staff, Agencies
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro banned the use of fire to clear land throughout the country for 60 days, in response to the massive increase in blazing fires in the Amazon rainforest that has caused international outrage.
According to an official decree, which was released on Thursday morning, the ban started on Wednesday -- the day it was signed.
The practice of burning land in rural areas is common among farmers, who will often use fires to clear the land for new crops or livestock.
Bolsonaro has repeatedly insisted the Amazon should be opened to development and has defunded the agencies responsible for cracking down on illegal activity.
Experts say his pro-development policies and lax regulation have led to ranchers and farmers burning the rainforest for purposes of cultivation and farming.
The ban comes after scientists warned that fires which have been raging at a record rate in Brazil's Amazon rainforest, could strike a devastating blow to the fight against climate change.
The Amazon, which spans eight countries and covers 40% of South America, is often referred to as "the planet's lungs" because estimates show that nearly 20% of oxygen produced by the Earth's land comes from rainforest. The Amazon also puts an enormous amount of water into the atmosphere at a time when cities are drying up.
Despite environmentalists pointing the finger at Bolsonaro, Brazil's populist pro-business President, who is backed by Brazil's so-called beef caucus, has dismissed accusations of responsibility for the fires and declared last week that he would send 43,000 troops to combat the inferno.
He also announced on Wednesday that South American leaders will meet on September 6 in Colombia to discuss policy surrounding the situation in the Amazon, according to Brazilian state news agency Agencia Brasil.