The smoke coming out of the south-eastern corner of the Amazon has badly affected the region, causing nosebleeds and forcing airports to close for days. The countless fires in the Amazon rain forest are conducted to make way for cattle pasture. Environmentalists say the fires are a part of increasing deforestation during this decade that has followed a much publicised decline in the late 1980s. Just five years after Brazil hosted the world's first Earth summit, amid optimism that conservation was becoming a priority, the Amazon jungle is still going up in smoke.
Garo Batmanian, president of the World Wide Fund in Brazil, says that the number of fires where there formerly was forest, is a good indicator of deforestation. The government, however, says the fires do not necessarily produce deforestation. A government agency has satellite photographs which can determine the area of deforestation. However environmentalists claim that the government does not want to analyse the photographs available with them as it wants to avoid unpleasant news.