Thousands of troops have been deployed to combat the Amazon fires, responding to global outcry over the destruction of the world’s largest tropical rainforest.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro authorised military operations in seven states to combat the worst fires on record, with warplanes dumping water on the state of Rondonia.
It comes as world leaders consider action on the issue at the G7 summit in France and a new environmental foundation backed by Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio pledged $US5 million ($7.4 million).
— Jair M. Bolsonaro (@jairbolsonaro) August 24, 2019
Nearly 80,000 fires have been registered across Brazil to August 24, the highest since at least 2013, according to space research agency INPE.
Minister of Defense Fernando Azevedo announced 43,000 navy, army and airforce personnel would combat fires and ensure rule of law in the fire-ravaged regions.
“The employment will be basically in preventive and repressive actions against environmental illicit and the lifting and fighting of fire outbreaks”, a translated media statement said.
“In recent years the Armed Forces have significantly increased their presence in the Amazon.
“We have the Amazon Protection System (SIPAM), coordinated by the Ministry. SIPAM uses the most advanced technologies to monitor the environment and the entire area.”
The Amazon fires were shunted to the top of the agenda at the G7 summit in France, with President Emmanuel Macron declaring it a global emergency and kicking off discussions.
Mr Macron said the leaders of the world’s major industrialised nations were close to an agreement on how to help fight the Amazon forest fires and try to repair the devastation.
“There’s a real convergence to say: ‘let’s all agree to help those countries hit by these fires’,” he told reporters.
He said the G7 countries, comprising the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Britain and Canada, were finalising a possible deal on “technical and financial help”.
A video posted by Brazil’s defence ministry on Saturday evening showed a military plane pumping thousands of litres of water out of two giant jets as it passed through clouds of smoke close to the forest canopy.
Mr Bolsonaro announced the military would be sent in on Friday after several days of criticism from the public and world leaders that Brazil’s government was not doing anything to fight the fires.
But outside of Rondonia, the government had yet to give operational details for other states.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio, an environmental activist, created Earth Alliance last month with philanthropists Laurene Powell Jobs and Brian Sheth.
It launched the Amazon Forest Fund in an announcement on its website on Sunday.
The alliance is also seeking donations to help repair the Brazilian rainforest, often referred to as the “lungs of the planet”.
Brazilian climate scientist Carlos Nobre said he worries if 20-25 per cent of the ecosystem is destroyed that the Amazon could reach a tipping point after which it would enter a self-sustaining period of dieback as the forest converts to savannah.
Mr Nobre warned that it is not far off with already 15-17 per cent of the rainforest having been destroyed.