Hamilton Mourao, Brazilian Vice President challenged actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio to an 8-hour hike in the Amazon on Wednesday and said he wanted to show the Hollywood star that the rainforest is not currently burning. Mourao, who leads the task force on fighting deforestation for President Jair Bolsonaro, came up against DiCaprio reposting an Instagram video from The Guardian newspaper with photos of the world’s largest burning rainforest.
The Guardian’s post is by DiCaprio, an outspoken environmentalist, on his own Instagram page Friday. The accompanying caption cited satellite data from Brazil’s space agency, INPE, showing the number of fires in the Brazilian Amazon increased 28 per cent year-on-year in July, with early figures suggesting an increase for August as well.
Last year Bolsonaro faced international criticism for presiding over increasing deforestation and massive fires in the Amazon. The far-right leader downplayed the problem, saying last week that this story about burning the Amazon is a lie. But he is also keen to avoid repeating the international outcry that took place last year.
In July, he decreed a 120-day ban on agricultural fires used by farmers. Also, ranchers to clear their fields using the slash-and-burn process — Amazon’s key cause of fires, experts claim. And he’d sent the army to the area ahead of this year’s ongoing fire season. Mourao insists that the policies work. He was swift to play up the fact that, in July 2020. It is the time of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon drop 36 per cent from July 2019 record rates. However, the same data also shows that in the 12 months through July, deforestation grew 34.5 per cent year-on-year.