BRASILIA – O Ibama ordered that all the fire-fighting agents of the environmental agency in the field in the country return immediately to their bases as of midnight this Thursday, 22. The order came from the Environmental Protection Directorate, which operates the Center National Forest Fire Prevention and Fighting System. Today, there are about 1,400 agency agents in action against fires across Brazil.
In a letter, Ricardo Vianna Barreto, head of Ibama’s Prevfogo Specialized Center, determines “the collection of all IBAMA’s Forest Fire Brigades to their respective bases of origin, starting at 00:00 (zero hour) on the 22nd October 2020, where they must remain awaiting orders for operational action in the field “. The document was sent to all bases of the agency at 19h31 and reaches those that operate in all regions of the country, including the Pantanal and the Amazon.
Ibama faces an arm wrestling with Ministry of Economy and claims that the body has insured the financial execution of Ibama’s budget. At the end of August, the Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, came to inform that, due to financial blocks for Ibama and Instituto Chico Mendes (ICMBio), all operations to combat illegal deforestation would be interrupted in both regions and also in the rest of the country.
The stoppage became official, but a few hours later the government went back. Vice-President Hamilton Mourão even declared that there was no blockade and that Salles had rushed. Wanted, Ibama did not comment on the matter until the closing of this text. Salles was also contacted by the report, but has yet to comment.
THE Estadão found that the Ministry of the Environment even went to the Ministry of Economy and questioned the resources, but there was no sign of release. The report had access to a letter that the director of planning, administration and logistics of Ibama, Luis Carlos Hiromi Nagao, sent this Wednesday, 21, to the boards of Ibama. He writes: “In view of the current situation reported (…) and considering that the negotiations with the higher bodies to solve the problem have not yet had an effect, I announce the unavailability of financial resources to close the current month, and it is not possible to proceed with the that municipality’s expense payments. ”
The Ministry of Economy also did not comment on the matter. At the moment, there is an outstanding debt of at least R $ 16 million with the area covered by Prevfogo alone, as the report found out.
Loss of burnt areas is the biggest since 2012
Data from the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe) show that, between January and September this year, Brazil, with all its biomes, has not lost as many areas to fires since 2012. In the first nine months of this year, the national territory lost 226 thousand km² to fire, exceeding the alarming rate of the same period last year, when 224 thousand km² were swept away by the flames.
The wetland, the most severely affected of the biomes in 2020, lost 32,910 km² between January and September, almost triple the 12,948 km² of the same interval in 2019. The Amazon had 62,311 km² lost, against 59,826 last year. The outbreaks of fires, updated daily, show that the fire remains strong. In this 21 days of October, 2,687 outbreaks of fire were registered in the wetland, exceeding the volume registered during the 31 days of October 2019, which had 2,430 outbreaks.
The atmosphere between Ricardo Salles and the military wing of the government, which today leads environmental actions in the Amazon, through Operation Green Brazil 2, has never been one of the best. MMA feels neglected when the theme is distribution of funds and demands a counterpart from the government.
In August, when asked about Salles’ decision to suspend operations in the Amazon, the vice president of the Republic, Hamilton Mourão, who also chairs the Legal Amazon Council, said that Salles had rushed. Mourão said the government has reduced resources from ministries to pay emergency aid to informal workers during the pandemic, but guaranteed that environmental actions would not be affected.
“The minister rushed, he did. What is happening? The government is looking for resources to be able to pay emergency aid, that’s what I’m coming to the conclusion. So it is taking resources from all ministries. Each ministry offers what it can offer, right? ”, Said Mourão, at the time. “The appeal is open, it is not blocked,” said the deputy.
Salles countered comment. “Of course there was (the blockade). The block was made. And we couldn’t accept that ”, said the minister, on that occasion.
Amazon Fund. Although Ibama has budgetary resources paralyzed by Paulo Guedes’ portfolio, the fact is that the agency has money released in programs of the Amazon Fund, funded by the governments of Norway and Germany, which it simply does not access.
The Profisc 1 program has the function of “supporting Ibama’s activities of environmental inspection and deforestation control in the Legal Amazon”. Approved in April 2018, it is valid until April 2021. With R $ 140 million released for use, Ibama has used only R $ 77 million to date and, this year, only R $ 10.2 million was withdrawn in July. No new access to the resource was requested by Ibama.