The new Environment minister of Brazil pledged Monday, May 19, to aggressively fight illegal logging and deforestation in the Amazon rain forest. Former Rio de Janeiro state Environment Secretary, Carlos Minc, is expected to take the post on May 27.
Minc replaces renowned rain forest defender Marina Silva, who resigned last week in apparent despair over the obstacles she faced in policing the illegal lumber industry, among other things.
Minc insisted that anti-logging measures "will be maintained and reinforced." He announced plans to use soldiers to protect the environment and vowed to implement a "zero deforestation" program. He gave no further details.
Former minister Silva who was very much respected by environmentalist groups, had criticized Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's administration failure to provide sustainable alternatives to illegal logging. Her resignation left many environmentalists worried that illegal loggers might more often be left to do as they please.
Minc said on Sunday that he would propose President Lula da Silva making Brazil's armed forces play a more active role in protecting national parks, Indian reserves and the Amazon rain forest.
He promised that the Amazon "will not be converted into charcoal" and promised to continue with the "same policies that the former minister Marina Silva had insisted. We will also do many other things that she was unable to accomplish and that we now have the conditions to fulfill."
The appointed minister is co-founder of the Green Party in Brazil and currently Rio de Janeiro state's Environment secretary.
The Amazon rain forest which borders with several South American neighbors and is home to 27 million people out of Brazil's total population of 185 million, has been facing with limited success the risks of excessive deforestation as loggers and farmers keep advancing.