Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro pledged on Saturday, August 3rd, to combat "illegal deforestation," a day after the head of Brazil's respected National Institute for Space Research (INPE), Ricardo Galvao, was sacked over deforestation data in the Amazon rainforest.
Bolsonaro claimed the INPE figures "don't correspond to the truth," and were damaging to the institute and the country, saying: “we cannot accept sensationalism, or the disclosure of inaccurate numbers that cause great damage to Brazil's image," according to AFP.
The latest data released by INPE, an institution of international repute, shows that deforestation has increased 40% in the last two months, compared to the same period a year ago.
Both Bolsonaro, and his environment minister, Ricardo Salles, had refuted the INPE satellite data, and said the methodologies for measuring deforestation would be changed.
The sacking of Galvao triggered criticism from environmental groups, such as Marcio Astrini from Greenpeace, who blamed the president's pro-agribusiness policies for the rise in deforestation.
The government admits deforestation has increased, though it insists it is not as great as indicated by INPE.