Worst June for Brazil Amazon forest fires since 2007: data

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This photo taken on August 16, 2020 shows a fire in the Amazon rainforest south of Novo Progresso in Para state, Brazil

The Brazilian Amazon has suffered its worst June for forest fires since 2007, official data showed Thursday, indicating another devastating dry season for the world's largest rainforest.

The INPE research institute said its satellites detected 2,308 fires last month, an increase of 2.3 percent from June 2020.

The previous record for the month of June was in 2007 with 3,519 fires.

The grim statistic comes after May this year saw the most number of fires -- 1,166 -- since the worst May on record in 2007.

Environmental groups blame the trend on the government of President Jair Bolsonaro, who has promoted commercialization of the Amazon since coming to power in 2019 and described NGOs trying to protect the jungle as a "cancer."

"The increase in fires in the Amazon is not a surprise; it is the result of direct actions that encourage illegality and weaken control bodies, such as the 60-percent cut in the 2021 budget for fire surveillance," said the Social and Environmental Institute, which monitors forest trends.

In 2020, said the INPE, the Brazilian Amazon recorded 103,000 fires, an annual increase of nearly 16 percent.

Experts blame deforestation to free up land for farming.

Bolsonaro has vowed to the international community that he will eliminated illegal deforestation by 2030.

This week, the government published a decree prohibiting the use of fire in farming practices for four months, and authorized the military to patrol the Amazon to prevent environmental crimes that include deforestation and illegal mining.

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