Brazil will ban fires in the Amazon forest for 120 days, heeding the demands of global investors upset over environmental destruction, the government said Thursday.
A formal decree banning fires will come next week.
Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourao made the announcement during a virtual investment conference Thursday with several European firms. He cited a letter signed by 29 firms — some of whom are threatening to cut all investment in Brazil unless the environmental degradation stops.
“It’s a positive first step, and we need to continue the dialogue, and hopefully we’ll all see some results on the ground,” said Jeanett Bergan, head of responsible investments for KLP, Norway’s largest pension fund.
The investors told Brazilian authorities they monitor deforestation rates, prevention of forest fires, and enforcement of Brazil’s forest code when assessing their investment strategy in Brazil.
Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, has come under global condemnation for his promise to open the vast Amazon rainforest to development and his opposition to assuring that some parts are reserved for Indigenous peoples.
Environmentalists say deforestation in the Amazon reached its highest levels in 11 years last year. Some European Union nations threatened not to ratify a long-negotiated free trade deal with a group of Latin countries that includes Brazil unless Brazil’s attitude changes.
Mourao said Brazil has been unfairly criticized and said the Bolsonaro government was handed understaffed environmental agencies by the previous administration.
Brazilian officials have said they are working to overcome Brazil’s current image as being indifferent to the Amazon and hostile to those who want to save it from destruction.