Deforestation is accelerating in Brazil as Bolsonaro's first term ends, experts say

Illegal activity in the Amazon is gaining momentum as the last months of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration wind down, experts tell CNN. According to

specialists and people on the ground, loggers, ranchers, miners and others seeking profit are tearing apart the protected region faster than ever, motivated by fears that

Bolsonaro’s re-election bid could fail – and that the next president could crack down harder on such activity. From illegal miners openly declaring their support to an

environmental minister’s resignation after investigations tying him to illegal log-smuggling, Bolsonaro administration is seen as an ally to environmental law-breakers in the

Amazon. “The government seems to be letting people grab public lands. Trees are being knocked down and burnt in order to create grazing pastures. They just keep going. No

one does anything about it,” says Marcelo Horta, a sociologist who works with indigenous peoples in Labrea, a town in Amazonas state. Luciana Gatti, a leading researcher

at Brazil’s Space Research Institute (INPE), a government agency that tracks fires in the Amazon, theorizes that the country’s political calendar could be the reason. “If

you are an environmental criminal, and you see there is a big chance that the one who is giving you the green light will leave, what would you think? Let me make the most out of

this as it might be the last year of lawlessness”, said Gatti. A truck drives past a pile of illegally cut down logs in the forest in Humaita, southern Amazonas State,

Brazil, on September 17, 2022. - Michael Dantas/AFP/Getty Images