As Amazon Fires Burn on, Conservationists Blame Illegal Logging and Criminal Networks

"I think it is fundamental that the government sends a signal that illegality is not allowed anymore in the Amazon," one expert said

As the Amazon continues to burn in a record fire season, experts say the problem is rooted in illegal logging and criminal networks exploiting the forests for its natural resources and agricultural potential, NBC News reports.

"The government doesn't have any governance over what is going on," Ane Alencar, science director for the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM), told NBC News from Brazil on Thursday.

Alencar co-authored a report released by IPAM last week that found deforestation — and not drought — is the primary driver behind the record fires this year. Human Rights Watch also released a report Tuesday pointing to "rainforest mafias" for causing the deforestation, fires and the deaths of the land's defenders — predominantly indigenous peoples.

Fires in the rainforest gained global attention last month when images of the smoke darkening skies over Brazil prompted an international outcry.

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