Salles shares responsibility with states and says federal government oversees only 6% of the Pantanal

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BRASILIA – The Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, sought to minimize the federal government’s responsibility for record fires that hit the Pantanal and said, this Tuesday, the 13th, that the federal administration is responsible for only 6% of the total area of ​​the biome, leaving to the states of the Mato Grosso e Mato Grosso do Sul inspection by 94% of the territory.

In a public hearing held by the Senate Commission on fires in the Pantanal, Salles stated that it is necessary to stick to the “jurisdiction” of each entity in the defense of the biome. The Pantanal totals 150 thousand square kilometers located in the States of Mato Grosso (35%) and Mato Grosso do Sul (65%).

“Only 6% of the Pantanal alone are under federal jurisdiction. The rest of the territory is a state responsibility. Therefore, the federal government contributes its share of jurisdiction ”, declared the minister, during a public hearing marked, essentially, by senators linked to agribusiness in both states.

In practice, Ricardo Salles’ statement seeks to restrict government action to federal conservation units and indigenous lands, which account for about 6% of the Pantanal’s territory. The minister omits, however, one of his main functions at the head of MMA, which is to manage the actions of the National Environment System (Sisnama). Salles is the president of Sisnama. It has been a regulated structure since 1990, which is formed by the bodies and entities of the Union, the States, the Federal District and the Municipalities. Sisnama’s mission is precisely to take responsibility for the “protection, improvement and recovery of environmental quality throughout the country”, as explained in its own statute.

For comparison, federal conservation units in the Amazon account for 28% of the entire territory. Federal action, however, is not limited to just that territory, but seeks to act in the entire biome, given its role in preserving the forest and fighting crime in the region.

During the virtual hearing, the minister again defended the thesis that, if there were more cattle in the Pantanal, there would have been less fire, because the animals would have eaten more bush. Salles also took the opportunity to further defend the use of fire retardants, a product he used over the weekend at Chapada dos Veadeiros (GO), although this type of product has no regulation in Brazil and presents a series of restrictions on use due to contamination risks.

“We had, for a long time, an innocuous discussion, whether or not to consider the use of retardants, when all countries, United States, Europe, Canada, Japan, all use this technology to improve the fight against fires”, he declared . “Mato Grosso has already started using it. We used it now at Chapada dos Veadeiros and it was a success. This is an issue that needs to be faced head on. This view that the use of technology is not healthy is a mistaken view. ”

THE Estadão had access to a technical note made by the Coordination of Environmental Assessment of Hazardous Substances and Products from Ibama, in July 2018. In this document, Ibama technicians analyzed the product that was launched in the region, without yet having the proper environmental regulation in Brazil . This chemical, which is mixed with water and launched by airplanes over vegetation, has the property of increasing the fire’s holding capacity. The technicians are adamant when recommending “the suspension of water consumption, fishing, hunting and consumption of fruits and vegetables in the region exposed to the product for a period of 40 days”.

This period is stipulated, according to the note, because the product launched in the forest takes at least 28 days for about 80% to 90% of its material to degrade. The compound used, known as fire retardant, was Fire Limit FL-02.

Data from the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe) show that between October 1 and 12, 2,194 fires were recorded in the Pantanal. This partial volume is already close to that recorded in October of last year, which reached 2,194 fires.

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