BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil’s main environmental enforcement agency, Ibama, handed out 20% fewer fines in 2020, a Brazilian non-profit factchecking initiative said on Tuesday, as the government rolls back conservation efforts and Amazon deforestation skyrockets.
The federal agency gave out 9,516 fines in 2020 compared with 11,914 in 2019, according to an analysis of public databases by Fakebook.eco, which is run by the Climate Observatory campaign group.
Since assuming office in 2019, right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro has sought to weaken Ibama here by cutting its funding and installing managers who have promoted softer tactics against illegal logging, farming and mining.
Bolsonaro has said more commercial farming and mining in the Amazon rainforest are necessary to lift the region out of poverty, and has accused Ibama of creating an “industry of fines.”
Fakebook said Bolsonaro had hamstrung Ibama and created impunity for illegal deforestation and mining.
Bolsonaro’s office directed questions about his environmental agenda to Ibama, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Amazon deforestation hit a 12-year high in 2020, when an area of forest seven times the size of London was cleared, according to the government’s space research institute (Inpe).
According to Fakebook’s analysis, fines specifically for “flora” violations in the Amazon region, which includes deforestation, fell by 42% for the 12 months through July 2020, compared to the previous 12-month period.
Reporting by Jake Spring; Editing by Kevin Liffey
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