As data shows fires raging in Brazil's Amazon rainforest and Pantanal wetlands with historic force, President Jair Bolsonaro said Thursday (September 17) that Brazil "should be congratulated for the way it preserves its environment." Libby Hogan reports.
Recent footage from the Amazon rainforest and the Pantanal wetlands shows fires swallowing up the landscape.
But in a Thursday (September 17) speech, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro patted himself on the back and said his country should be congratulated for environmental preservation.
"Brazil is the country that preserves the environment the most.
Some don't understand that.
It's the country that suffers the most attacks from abroad regarding its environment." There was no mention of the data from the goverment's space research agency, that shows Amazon deforestation has jumped by at least one third in the past 12 months ending in July, compared with the same period a year ago.
And its lesser known cousin, the world's largest wetland the Pantanal, has seen fires rip through the land.
Local animal rescue team member Eduarda Fernandes said many animals are in grave danger, including 36 threatened with extinction.
The fires have burned through a record 23,000 square kilometres that accounts for nearly 16 percent of the total area of the Pantanal, according to analysis by the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.
In the Amazon, illegal ranchers and land speculators generally set fire to plots of land to clear them for farming.
The federal police are investigating five farmers for allegedly starting fires illegally.
Environment activists have blamed Bolsonaro, who supports introducing more commercial farming and mining in the Amazon.
The far-right president says developing the Amazon will lift the region out of poverty.
Meanwhile, Bolsonaro said Wednesday the solution lies in issuing land titles to those squatting on public land.
Earlier this year, his government attempted to push through a bill that would make it easier to issue land titles, but the effort failed after NGOs said it would increase deforestation and major European brands threatened to boycott Brazil.