Statement on Forest Fires in the Brazilian Amazon | Amazon Watch
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Amazon Watch Statement on Forest Fires in the Brazilian Amazon

August 21, 2019 | For Immediate Release

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Christian Poirier, Amazon Watch’s Program Director, made the following statement about the fires raging across the Brazilian Amazon:

“The unprecedented fires ravaging the Amazon are an international tragedy and a dangerous contribution to climate chaos. This devastation is directly related to President Bolsonaro’s anti-environmental rhetoric, which erroneously frames forest protections and human rights as impediments to Brazil’s economic growth. Farmers and ranchers understand the president’s message as a license to commit arson with wanton impunity, in order to aggressively expand their operations into the rainforest.”

Moira Birss, Amazon Watch’s Finance Campaign Director, made the following statement about the fires:

“Indigenous people of the Amazon have been sounding the alarm about risks to the rainforest for years and resisting the destruction – sometimes at the cost of their own lives. Now that the world is finally paying attention, it’s important to also understand that governments and companies around the world are emboldening Bolsonaro’s toxic policies when they enter trade agreements with his government or invest in agribusiness companies operating in the Amazon.”

Quick stats on the fires:

  • The fires were reportedly started by farmers who explicitly stated that they were encouraged by Bolsonaro’s rhetoric to open more rainforest for agriculture. One of the organizers of a coordinated “Fire Day” protest that called for coordinated fires to be set across the Amazon said, “We need to show the president that we want to work and the only way is deforesting. It’s to create pastures by [clearing forest], and with fire.”
  • There have been 72,843 fires in Brazil this year, with more than half in the Amazon region, according to the National Institute for Space Research, which monitors fires using satellite images. That’s an 84% increase compared with the same period last year.
  • The Amazon is often referred to as the planet’s lungs, producing 20% of the oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere.

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