Gen. Augusto Heleno. Photo: Evaristo Sa/AFP via Getty Images
Brazil's top security official is vowing to tackle the country's uptick in deforestation months after rampant fires in the Amazon rainforest thrust the issue into the international spotlight, Bloomberg reports.
The big picture: The Amazon, the world's largest and most biodiverse rainforest, plays a significant role in slowing global warming. But pro-development President Jair Bolsonaro has sanctioned its deforestation to fulfill a campaign promise of opening the Amazon to new agricultural and mining opportunities.
Driving the news: Brazil's Amazon lost 3,769 square miles of rainforest between August 2018 and July 2019, according to a new government report that suggested deforestation in the Amazon has hit an 11-year high. That's up 30% from a year prior, the Washington Post reports.
- The country had lost 1,330 square miles of its rainforest as of July, just seven months after Bolsonaro took office.
- Earlier this month, fires tore through Brazil's wetlands, destroying 50,000 hectares of vegetation.
What they're saying: “We are already preparing a stronger policy to contain fires,” said Gen. Augusto Heleno Pereira, Brazil's institutional security minister, per Bloomberg. “Everybody is convinced we must tighten enforcement.”
But, but, but: Bolsonaro undercut Heleno's comment, telling reporters “[d]eforestation and fires will never end,” as he blamed the country's culture on the phenomenon, per the Post.