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The dangerous relationship between Covid-19 and deforestation

In an article published in El Pais, researchers from the Institute for Environmental Research of the Amazon Region and from the Center for High Amazon Studies at the Federal University of Pará warn that illegal loggers are not complying with quarantine orders or social isolation

The new coronavirus pandemic has changed the routine and expectations of the world. In the Amazon Region, however, the collateral effects may be much worse than those related to health, as explained by André Guimarães (executive director of the Institute for Environmental Research of the Amazon Region – IPAM), Claudia Azevedo-Ramos (full professor at the Center for High Amazon Studies at the Federal University of Pará –UFPA) and Paulo Moutinho (senior scientist at IPAM), in an article published in the national version of El Pais. This is because illegal loggers and land grabbers are not in social isolation, as correctly ordered by the Ministry of Health and good international practices, while the public agents who maintain the compliance with the environmental laws are absent or with limited inspection and control actions. "In the next months, still under the whirlwind imposed by the pandemic and with the arrival of the dry season in a large part of the Amazon Region, we could witness a large increase in deforestation,” they warned.

Credit: AP

The first signs have already arrived. Even before the appearance of Covid-19, the deforestation rates at the beginning of 2020 indicated significant chainsaw activity. In January, according to DETER, the deforestation warning system of the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe), there was an increase of 52 % of areas under alert in relation to the same period in 2019, while in February the growth was 25%. Some alternatives have become indispensable:

“As a minimum prevention, it is necessary that the government maintains the means of remote monitoring in the region, supporting the work of agencies such as INPE, ICMBio, IBAMA and the Federal Police, taking all the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of their employees. Resources from the frozen Amazon Fund must be urgently released by the Government to combat deforestation. Special attention should be given to the indigenous peoples from the region, the guardians of the forest, who are unprotected,” says the article. Read it in full.

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