BRASILIA – Brazil yesterday launched its largest-ever drive to protect the vast Amazon rain forest from logging and illegal burning during the dry season when the worst destruction takes place, the government said. Every year between April and October Brazil goes on maximum alert to fight the massive forest fires that are mainly sparked by slashing and burning by farmers during the period when the Amazonian rains and rivers subside.
Jose Carlos Carvalho, the environment ministry’s executive secretary, said the country would spend 24.7 million reais ($14 million) this year on monitoring the Amazon. The world’s largest tropical forest accounts for about 50 percent of the world’s biodiversity.
“We are launching a major monitoring operation to reduce the rate of logging and burning and at the same time create alternative proposals for development,” Carvalho said.
The operation will include 800 inspectors on the ground, up from 170 in previous years, in addition to helicopters and boats that will survey from the Amazon’s huge network of rivers.
The biggest destruction to the Amazon comes from logging, which according to the government’s Environment Agency (Ibama) destroyed 138,400 acres (56,000 hectares) of forest last year.
Nearly 27,000 acres (11,000 hectares) were destroyed by burning during last year’s dry season. The fires usually get out of control as farmers burn their plots in preparation for the next planting season without sufficient controls.
This year Ibama inspectors will boost their help to farmers to control the fires.
Measuring 2.9 million square miles (7.5 million square kilometres) of jungle which extends to nine countries, the Amazon represents seven percent of the world’s surface.