BRAZIL-    The Brazilian government has said it will reject an offer of aid from G7 coun­tries to help tackle fires in the Amazon rainforest.

French President Emmanuel Macron - who hosted a G7 summit that ended on Monday - said $22m (£18m) would be released. But Brazilian ministers say the money is not needed and accuse for­eign powers of wanting control of the Amazon.

Satellite data show fires - mostly in the Amazon region - are burning at re­cord levels.

Commenting on the G7 offer of aid, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s chief of staff, Onyx Lorenzoni, told the Globo news website: “Thanks, but may­be those resources are more relevant to reforest Europe.

“Macron cannot even avoid a predict­able fire in a church that is part of the world’s heritage, and he wants to give us lessons for our country?” Mr Lorenzoni added, in a reference to the fire that hit Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris in April.

Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo says there are already mechanisms under the auspices of the UN climate conven­tion to fight deforestation.

“Efforts of some political currents to extrapolate real environmental issues into a fabricated ‘crisis’ as a pretext for introducing mechanisms for external control of the Amazon are very evident,” he added in a tweet.

Mr Bolsonaro has previously said his government lacks the resources to fight the record number of fires in the Ama­zon region.

Greenpeace France has described the G7’s response to the crisis as “inade­quate given the urgency and magnitude of this environmental disaster”.

On Monday, actor Leonardo DiCaprio pledged $5m towards helping the rain­forest. One world expert on forestry says what is needed in Brazil is a change in political priorities.

“The funding for Brazil’s environment agency has gone down by 95% this year, it [has] essentially gutted large part of the actions that have been put in by the agricultural ministry,” Yadvinder Malhi, professor of Ecosystem Science at the University of Oxford, told the BBC’s To­day programme.

“So the real thing is to look at the political direction of governance in the Amazon that’s changing under the new Brazilian government.”

The $22m was announced on Mon­day as the leaders of the G7 - Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US - met in Biarritz, France.

Mr Macron said the funds would be made available immediately - primarily to pay for more firefighting planes - and that France would also “offer concrete support with military in the region”

But Mr Bolsonaro - who has been en­gaged in a public row with Mr Macron in recent weeks - accused the French lead­er of launching “unreasonable and gra­tuitous attacks against the Amazon re­gion”, and “hiding his intentions behind the idea of an ‘alliance’ of G7 countries”.

He has long maintained that Euro­pean countries are trying to gain access to Brazil’s natural resources. He alleges that European interest in the welfare of the Amazon is a thin guise for attempts to gain a foothold in the region.

Asked by international journalists about environmental protection of the Amazon at a press briefing on 6 July, he said: “Brazil is like a virgin that every pervert from the outside lusts for.”

He also said Europeans had “got it into their heads” that the Amazon did not belong to Brazil.

Since then, he has stressed the issue of sovereignty time and time again.

“These countries that send money here, they don’t send it out of char­ity,” Mr Bolsonaro said last week. “They send it with the aim of interfering with our sovereignty.”

On Friday, facing mounting pressure from abroad, President Bolsonaro au­thorised the military to help tackle the blazes.

Brazil says 44,000 soldiers have been deployed to combat the fires and envi­ronmental crimes in the Amazon, and military operations are under way in seven states as the result of requests for assistance from local governments.

Wildfires often occur in the dry sea­son in Brazil, but satellite data pub­lished by Brazil’s space agency show an increase of 80% this year.

As the largest rainforest in the world, the Amazon is a vital carbon store that slows down the pace of global warming. It spans a number of countries, but the majority of it falls within Brazil.