As fires burn, Bolsonaro says Brazil should be congratulated for its 'environment work'

WION Web Team Brasilia, Brazil Sep 18, 2020, 03.56 PM(IST)

Bolsonaro and an aerial view shows smoke rising into the air around the Cuiaba river in the Pantanal, the world's largest wetland, in Pocone, Mato Grosso state, Brazil, Photograph:( Reuters )

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Recent data shows fires raging in Brazil's Amazon rainforest and Pantanal wetlands with historic force.

President Jair Bolsonaro said Thursday that Brazil "should be congratulated for the way it preserves its environment".

Recent data shows fires raging in Brazil's Amazon rainforest and Pantanal wetlands with historic force.

Speaking at a public event in the northeast state of Paraiba, Bolsonaro also said, "Brazil is the country that preserves the environment the most."

Also see: Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro and his 'non-normal' antics

Amazon deforestation has surged 34.5 pewr cent in the 12 months through July, compared to the same period a year ago, according to data from government space research agency Inpe.

And, in the world's largest wetland, the Pantanal, a record 23,490 square kilometers have burned through Septewmber 6, nearly 16 per cent of the Brazilian Pantanal, according to a Federal University of Rio de Janeiro analysis.

Also read: Brazil fires threaten world's largest wetland

In the Amazon, illegal ranchers and land speculators generally set fire to plots of land to clear them for agricultural purposes.

Environmental advocates blame Bolsonaro, who supports introducing more commercial farming and mining in the Amazon, for emboldening those who destroy the forest. The president says developing the Amazon will lift the region out of poverty.

Bolsonaro said on Wednesday the government was attempting to resolve the problem of fires via an initiative to issue land titles to those squatting on public land, in an effort the government has previously argued will allow them to be held accountable.