Brazil has announced that it will be setting up a special environmental task force to combat the soaring problem of illegal rainforest deforestation in the Amazon. The new unit is going to be conducting regular and permanent checks and surveillance of the dwindling Amazon rainforest, where illegal deforestation activities have grown 220% in the last month alone, compared to the previous year.
The new task force will have backing from a range of government bodies, including the army and federal police, along with the police unit of Brazil’s Environment Institution, the IBAMA. The authorities plan to focus their surveillance operations on the problematic dry season, which tends to see a rise in secret logging. Brazil’s Environmental Minister explained that the criminals involved in environmental crimes were becoming more sophisticated, meaning that the government had to response with more modern ways of carrying out surveillance and rainforest protection activities.
The figures are worrying too, with logging covering an area of over 210 square miles recorded in August, which was an exponential rise on the previous year’s figures. The drivers combining to encourage this illicit logging activity are thought to be drought, land grabs and the pressure of international soybean and other commodity prices. Land-grabs by settlers are being seen far more frequently along the Amazon’s nearby Trans-Amazonian road, which is being newly asphalted and ripe for nearby aligned economic development.
The problem isn’t simply Brazil’s but 60% of the vast Amazon – the world’s largest rainforest – is located within its borders. The problems with illegal deforestation to date have made this huge country one of the globe’s worst offenders for greenhouse gas emissions, but the government is now committed to curbing illegal rainforest deforestation and has made great strides towards achieving this. Meanwhile, the pressure of the international community remains strong, as observers wait to see how effective these latest measures are.