Salles Defends Hybrid Action against Pantanal Fires

Minister wants to use combination of oxen, fire and chemicals to prevent further burning in the Pantanal

Minister Ricardo Salles (Environment) defended a plan to use oxen, controlled fire, and chemicals to prevent further burning in the Pantanal.

Salles also criticized an excess of measures to protect biomes, saying that "banning everything at any time" is not "preservation but exaggeration".

Brazil's Environment Minister Ricardo Salles attends a launching ceremony of the basic sanitation legal framework at the Planalto Palace, in Brasilia, Brazil July 15, 2020. REUTERS/Adriano Machado - REUTERS

The Minister of the Environment participated virtually in the hearing sponsored by the special Senate commission, created to monitor the fires and government responses in the Pantanal.

In listing the measures that can be taken to prevent further large-scale fires, Salles assembled a package of controversial actions. He defended the "firefighter ox" thesis again - which states that cattle eat grass and thus reduce the organic mass that spreads the fire. Last week, Minister Tereza Cristina (Agriculture) had defended the same view in the commission.

He also said that the controlled use of fire, criticized by environmentalists, is not used because of some divergent "views".

The minister also spoke again about plans to create a permanent brigade to combat fires in the biome.

In September, there was a 180% increase in the number of fires in the Pantanal region from the the same period last year. It is the month with the highest number of occurrences in history: 8,106.

Almost 40 thousand km² of area burned this year, equivalent to 26.5% of the entire biome.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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