Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro ordered the armed forces to be involved for the third time in the protection of the Amazon basin from deforestation and other man-caused calamities.
As per the new presidential decree published Monday in the country's Official Gazette, troops are to be dispatched to states of Para, Amazonas, Mato Grosso and Rondonia for two months until the end of August.
Neither the exact number of troops to be deployed nor the cost of the operation were included in the decree, which is understandable for any military operation.
Deforestation has been increasing for quite a while but peaked after the 2018 election of Bolsonaro, a former Army captain himself, who repeatedly called for the development of the region.
In 2020, deforestation in the Amazon reached a level unseen since 2008. The US Government of President Joseph Biden has urged Bolsonaro to get tough on illegal logging.
This new decree marks the third time the Brazilian military are involved in environmental protection missions in the area, following two Operation Green Brazil deployments, the most recent of which ended in April.
Each mission involved thousands of soldiers. Still, environmental experts have said the military was ill-prepared and had limited efficacy. According to data released this month by the MapBiomas Project, a network of nonprofits, universities and technology companies that studies Brazilian land use, 98.9% of deforestation had indications of illegality, either done near springs, in protected areas or carried out without requisite authorisation. Brazil's environmental regulator levied fines in just 5% of these cases, the group found.
Marcio Astrini, executive secretary of the Climate Observatory, a network of environmental nonprofit groups, called the latest military deployment a smokescreen'' that will allow the government to claim to be fighting deforestation. He noted a previously successful initiative, largely funded by the Norwegian and German governments, has been suspended since 2019.
Astrini said that The government has adopted a series of measures that simply destroys the state's monitoring capacity, like stopping environmental fines.” He added that the regulator has also ceased destroying machinery used for illegal logging.