No request to battle Amazon blaze: DFAT

A fire burns in highway margins in the city of Porto Velho, part of Brazil's Amazon. Picture: AP Photo/Eraldo Peres
A fire burns in highway margins in the city of Porto Velho, part of Brazil's Amazon. Picture: AP Photo/Eraldo Peres

BRAZILIAN authorities are yet to ask for Australia’s help to battle escalating fires that are ravaging the Amazon rainforest.

The fires have drawn international concern due to the Amazon’s importance to the environment, with the Australian embassy in Brazil’s capital Brasilia keeping watch of the situation with “deep concern”.

“The world’s rainforests are a wealth of natural heritage and biodiversity. Australia knows too well the human and natural cost of fire,” a DFAT spokeswoman told AAP on Monday.

Overseas requests for help from Australian firefighters typically occur through diplomatic channels.

Trees burn in a wildfire in highway margins in the city of Porto Velho, part of Brazil’s Amazon. Picture: AP Photo/Eraldo Pere

Despite no formal request, Prime Minister Scott Morrison is in France for the G7 summit, where a plan to help battle the fires is high on the agenda.

Australia was invited by French President Emmanuel Macron to the leaders’ gathering that usually comprises France, Germany, the UK, Italy the US, Canada and Japan.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised $A18 million to help protect the Amazon rainforest, putting pressure on G7 leaders as they near a deal to help provide technical and financial help to countries affected by the fires.

A new environmental foundation backed by Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio has also pledged $A7.4 million in aid to the Amazon.

Trees are destroyed after a fire in the Alvorada da Amazonia. Picture: AP Photo/Leo Correa

Meanwhile, Brazilian warplanes are dumping water on the burning forest in the Amazon state of Rondonia, after local governments asked for assistance from the military.

A spokeswoman for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Sunday said he had authorised the request, enabling military operations in seven states to combat the fires.

Federal Labor has urged the Morrison government to do everything it can to encourage Brazil to protect the “world’s lungs”.

In a joint statement on Saturday, Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong and climate change spokesman Mark Butler said the rainforest fires were increasingly occurring at an alarming rate.