Environmental crimes in Brazil’s Amazon are responsible for the destruction of public forests the size of Portugal’s northern region over the past six years, but authorities have only conducted seven operations on these losses, according to a study. Report accuses Brazil of ignoring forest destruction in the Amazon
According to the Igarapé Institute study, cited by the US news agency AP, 302 environmental crime raids conducted by federal police in the Amazon between 2016 and 2021 were analyzed, but only 2 percent targeted people who illegally seized undesignated public lands.
The destruction happened in ‘unassigned’ state and federal forests, that is, without a designated use, as with the national parks and indigenous territories that make up the Amazon, which has an area of about 580 square kilometers, almost the size of Ukraine.
Read more on the subject: Brazil sets new six-month Amazon deforestation record
The report says that the lack of enforcement likely stems from the weak legal protection of these areas, which attracts illegal activity.
Environmentalists have long pressed the federal government to turn these unallocated public forests into protected areas, and since 1985 various governments have extended legal protection, to the point where today 47 percent of the Amazon is made up of protected areas, but the current president, Jair Bolsonaro, has argued that there are too many protected areas and has stalled this decades-long policy.
In 2016, some 2,240 square kilometers of unallocated public lands were illegally deforested, and last year almost double that area was reached. In six years, the cumulative loss reached about 18,500 square kilometers, according to data from the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM), cited by AP.
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