The Amazon has 604,000 square kilometres of unprotected forest, 6.5 times the size of Portugal, and it is there that the fires move, opening it up to property speculation, the activist said on Tuesday in an interview with Lusa.

Awarded in 2006 with the Goldman prize, considered the "Nobel" of the Environment, due to his "fight against illegal logging and mining operations", Tarcísio Feitosa is one of the guests of FIGaia - International Forum of Gaia that takes place from Wednesday, for 11 days, in the city of Vila Nova de Gaia, with the objective of finding solutions for sustainability.

The activist said that the Amazon "is not the lung of the world, but a water machine for rains, distributing the rain regularly throughout Brazil and beyond," and that the largest forest on the planet "is a responsibility of the whole world."

“The moment they cut down the Amazon rainforest, the forests in Portugal will start to catch fire. That's the logic."

Tarcísio Feitosa spoke of the climate consequences of the "day of the fire" which on 10 and 11 August consumed vast areas of the Amazon forest, presenting new figures a few months before countries meet again at the Climate Summit, which will take place in Chile.

"At the summit in Chile at the end of the year, the figures will point to a very complicated situation in the Amazon, in forests that are not protected (which are not indigenous lands, quilombola territories, special settlements or conservation areas) which add up to some 604,000 square kilometres of unprotected forest, that is, 6.5 times the size of Portugal."

Based "on studies and heat maps," Tarcísio Feitosa complained that the intentional fires are going in the direction of these areas of unprotected forest.

"We are witnessing real estate speculation in these areas, people who burn the forest and then sell it."

The epicentre of the problem, he said, is, however, thousands of kilometres away in Brasilia. At no point did the government of Brazil say it would protect indigenous lands so what is happening is a planned strategy.

"Hidden behind this are the militias of the big cities, which today we can call narco-militias because their role is to ensure the supply of drugs and the arms trade in Brazil."

"The Amazon is a reflection of all this, and the government is still allied with farmers, illegal cattle ranching and illegal loggers," he said.

Tarcísio Feitosa, currently studying law in Rio de Janeiro, said "it takes about 15 years in court to try an environmental case," and "Brazil's courts continue to be far removed from the decisions of international treaties," adding that "the law in Brazil has to be better applied, the burden of proof has to be reversed, passing to the criminal and not to those who denounce, the task of proving the accusation."

Critical of the position of Jair Bolsonaro's government towards the aid provided in August by the G7, following the fires in the Amazon, he recalled the support collected by the Amazon Fund to refute the idea that with the offer of €20 million the seven richest countries wanted the internationalisation of the Amazon.

"That would be tantamount to thinking that international interests are keeping an eye on the poles [North and South], on the thaw, to do business. He [Jair Bolsonaro] does not understand that the Amazon has the function of guaranteeing the continuity of life on the planet," he added.