Amazon fires surge anew in Brazil

Thick smoke billowed above Brazil's Amazon jungle as fire tore through butchered rainforest.

A Reuters witness saw vast burned and clear cut areas on Wednesday (September 1) and Thursday (September 2), as the arc of deforestation advanced deeper into the jungle by the frontier town of Labrea, the municipality with the most fires this year.

Satellites registered over 28,000 fires in the Brazilian Amazon in August, well above the historic average for the month, according to government data released this week.

Such levels were last seen a decade ago, before right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro took office.

The president has been widely criticized for driving development in the Amazon while working to weaken environmental protections.

Bolsonaro has also sought to roll back indigenous land rights, which protect huge swathes of rainforest, and has defanged environmental agencies, handing enforcement responsibilities to the military who have failed to prevent destruction.

The Amazon is the world's largest rainforest and is seen as a vital defense against climate change because of the vast amount of carbon dioxide that its plant life absorbs and stores.

Reuters saw no evidence of government firefighters or environmental enforcement efforts in Labrea.

Brazil's Environment Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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