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Brazil to end military-led program against Amazon logging deforestation

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s ongoing military-led operation to curb illegal deforestation and fires in the Amazon rainforest will end April 30, Vice President Hamilton Mourão said at the World Economic Forum on Wednesday.

Mourão defended the success of Operation Green Brazil 2, which was launched last May and saw deployment of thousands of soldiers across the Amazon. The vice president leads the government’s Amazon Council to fight deforestation in the region.

Since Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro took office, domestic and international concern has grown over the president’s calls for economic development in the Amazon. His critics have said the military operation has failed to clamp down on rampant illegal logging.

Government data showed that just over 11,000 square kilometers of forest disappeared between July 2019 and August 2020, up 9.5 percent compared to the previous year and the most since 2008.

Conclusion of the program means environmental agencies will once again be responsible for monitoring the country’s vast rainforest, Mourão said.

“We have been working on a plan … for our environmental agencies to resume, at the best of their capacity, operations and incursions into the forest,” he said.

An AP investigation last year found that the number of fines issued for environmental crimes had decreased significantly in recent years, and especially under Bolsonaro.

Mourão on Wednesday also called for “vital” private and international investments in the region.

“Sustainable development, particularly in the case of the Amazon, will only succeed with greater engagement from the private sector,” he said.