Flyovers register dramatic images of the Amazon and belie Bolsonaro’s speech at the UN
by Katie Nelson
September 21, 2021
“While Bolsonaro was en route to New York, we flew over the Amazon to record the reality of the destruction of the largest tropical rainforest in the world: illegal deforestation and burning."
São Paulo, Brazil – Despite claims made in President Bolsonaro’s speech at the 76th UN General Assembly, the Amazon rainforest remains shrouded in smoke and torn by criminal and unchecked devastation. This scenario was confirmed by the flyovers carried out last week by the Amazon in Flames Alliance, promoted by such organizations as Amazon Watch, Greenpeace Brazil, and the Brazilian Climate Observatory. The expedition took place between September 14 and 17, in the municipalities of Porto Velho (Rondônia state) and Lábrea (southern Amazonas state).
Photos are available here. The images can be used freely, provided due credit is given to: Victor Moriyama/Amazon in Flames.
Stela Herschmann, Climate Policy Specialist at the Climate Observatory, said:
“While Bolsonaro was en route to New York, we flew over the Amazon to record the reality of the destruction of the largest tropical rainforest in the world: illegal deforestation and burning. The images don’t lie, but the same cannot be said of President Bolsonaro in his speech at the UN.”
The first images by the project released today show large areas already consumed by fire — polygons ranging from 1,550 to 2,450 hectares, or the equivalent to 2,012 to 3,181 soccer fields — among the five largest deforestation areas in the state of Amazonas. The following were also detected: scars from mining activities within protected areas, illegal landing strips, large plots of land being prepared for planting, and cattle grazing alongside recent fires.
Romulo Batista, a spokesperson for the Greenpeace Brazil Amazon Campaign who has lived and worked in the region for the past 15 years, said:
“What we saw from above was the forest covered in smoke and unchecked devastation on the ground. Setting fire to the forest is part of the deforestation cycle, which includes the initial removal of the most valuable trees, a financial benefit for those who invest in land grabbing — this land, in general, ends up being transformed into pastures. And it is a crime, as set forth in the Executive Order No. 10,735, of June 28, 2021, which bans the use of fire in agricultural and forestry activities in Brazil.”
On the same date, the federal government authorized, for the third time, the use of military troops to combat environmental crimes with a focus on illegal deforestation, a strategy that has proven ineffective in the past.
Ana Paula Vargas, Amazon Watch Brazil Program Director, said:
“Enforcement agencies such as IBAMA need to recover their capacity to act, with the freedom and support they had before, when Brazil was a world reference in the fight against deforestation. Losing the heart of the Amazon could bring us even closer to the forest’s tipping point. This is a time to act against the crimes, and not to cover them up.”
Photos from the flyover are available here. The images can be used freely, provided due credit is given to: Victor Moriyama/Amazon in Flames.
About Amazon in Flames: The Amazon in Flames Alliance is a partnership between Amazon Watch, Greenpeace Brazil, and the Brazilian Climate Observatory that carries out flyovers to monitor and disseminate information on forest areas that have been deforested and/or threatened by deforestation, fire, and mining.
Katie Nelson, Senior Communications Specialist, Greenpeace USA: +1 (678) 644-1681, [email protected]