Brazil has deployed thousands of soldiers to protect the Amazon rainforest, taking precautions to avoid spreading the novel coronavirus, as the government mounts an early response to surging deforestation in the run-up to the high season for forest fires.
The armed forces, along with environmental officials, police and other government agencies, began with an operation in a national forest in Rondonia state, near the Bolivian border, Vice President Hamilton Mourao said at a news conference on Monday.
The destruction hit an 11-year high last year, spurring an outcry and criticism that Brazil was not doing enough to protect the world’s largest rainforest.
“We don’t want to be labelled by the rest of the world as an environmental villain,” Mourao said.
President Jair Bolsonaro authorised the deployment, sending in troops three months earlier than in 2019, when Amazon fires grabbed global headlines…