Brazil bans fire burning for 60 days to curb damage to the Amazon

The new ban coincides with the dry season Credit: Victor R Caivano/AP

Brazil has banned most legal fires used to clear land for 60 days in a bid to stop the spread of burning which has destroyed parts of the Amazon rain forest.

The official decree by Brazil's government was published on Thursday and comes after president Jair Bolsonaro has been heavily criticised for his handling of environmental affairs.

The ban coincides with the dry season in Brazil, which is when most fires are usually set.

Fires across the Brazilian Amazon have sparked an international outcry for preservation of the world’s largest rainforest Credit: Leo Correa/AP

Brazil's forest code allows farmers and others to set fires as long as they have licences from environmental authorities.

There has been more than an 80 per cent increase in the number of fires in Brazil. Critics say people have become emboldened to burn more after Mr Bolsonaro claimed rain forest protections were slowing down the country's economy.

Mr Bolsonaro has suggested that environmental groups have been setting illegal fires to try and destabilise his government.

  • Rising temperatures

Earlier this week, Brazil's president rejected an offer of international aid to fight the Amazon fires, citing French leader Emmanuel Macron's comments as offensive.

Mr Bolsonaro said his French counterpart had called him a liar, and accused him of questioning Brazil’s sovereignty amid tensions over devastating fires sweeping the Amazon region.

The Brazilian leader said Mr Macron must retract some of his comments, “and then we can speak”.

Following a G7 meeting in Biarritz over the weekend,at least $20m was offered to Brazil to help combat the blazes across the region.

Macron has said he regrets Brazil's rejection of the offer of aid, saying the money was a sign of friendship, not "aggressiveness."

Fire consumes an area in the Alvorada da Amazonia region, in Novo Progresso, Para state, Brazil. Credit: AP
  • What is happening in the Amazon?

Brazilian federal experts reported a record number of wildfires across the country this year, up 84% over the same period in 2018.

Amazon fires are a common occurrence, Greenpeace UK spokeswoman Alison Kirkman said, but added that there has been a “huge” increase this year.

Smoke rises from a rainforest in Altamira, Para state, Brazil. Credit: AP

Her view is backed by Mike Barrett, executive director of conservation and science at WWF UK, who said: “The fires this year are certainly worse than normal.

“We’ve seen over 70,000 fires now already this year which is nearly double what we saw in the same period last year.”