Today is the Amazon Rainforest day! But there is not so much to celebrate. The Covid-19 pandemic may be accelerating the process of desforetion. This date was established in 1850, by the Brazilian imperator back then, Dom Pedro II, during the monarchy period that happened right after the independence process. The meaning of this celebration day has changed through the years. At first, the purpose was honoring the new federation state created, Amazonas, which comprehends a considerable part of the forest. More Recently, the Amazon day has become a date used to warn and aware the population about the growing deforestation and destruction.
At this time, the new coronavirus pandemic has made it even clearer how the preservation and environmental issues are important in our individual lives and in the maintenance of society. When it comes to a worldwide renowned biome it is important that everyone reminds how important is fighting for it. But, how the Covid-19 has worsened the Amazon Rainforest deforestation?
- A huge part of environment inspectors had to leave their physical jobs
When the new coronavirus spread in Brazil and all of us were recommended to stay home and isolated from the others, including the environmental inspectors, who had to leave their physical jobs. This has made it easier for the illegal loggers to deforestate.
Of course, there are ways of monitoring and avoiding the devastation remotely, such as the two types of satellites of INPE (The National Institute for Spatial Research): The Real-Time Deforestation Detection (Deter) and Satellite Monitoring Program for the Brazilian Amazon Forest (Prodes). Despite, the absence of workers on the field still weakens the inspection, because it is possible to rely only on the half of the possibilities than before.
- Public health has become a priority on the public agenda
In Brazil, the Amazon is localized in the North Region, which was seriously affected by COVID-19. During May, the situation Manaus -capital of Amazonas state- became chaotic. Hospitals were crowded, and there wasn't a place to bury cadavers in the cemeteries. Of course, that terrible reality made the population and public authorities focus mainly on the sanitary issues. Consequently, the deforestation problems became less important, at least for a while, in the public agenda.
- Government measures in the pandemic
There is a third - and concerning - point that can help in the acceleration of deforestation: a couple of measures taken by the federal government during the first semester of 2020. First, two of the main agents of IBAMA (Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources) were fired from their posts. One week after that, the government environment agencie were integrated into the Armed Forces.
This measure weakens IBAMA's power of decision and autonomy. A crusade against the ambiental authorities and agencies is not exactly news in the Jair Bolsonaro’s government. Since the beginning of his mandate, the interests of agribusiness and gold-digging have been privileged. Every month, the companies in those segments are breaking records in profits.