Air force officer to head Brazil's deforestation watchdog

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil's science minister has appointed an air force officer as interim president of the agency which monitors deforestation in the Amazon.

Minister Marcos Pones says Darcton Policarpo Damiao was confirmed Monday as the new head of the National Institute for Space Research. He should assume the position later this week.

The institute's previous president left his position on Friday amid rising tensions with President Jair Bolsonaro over deforestation data showing a significant increase in illegal logging.

University records show Damiao has a PhD in sustainable development from the University of Brasilia, where he wrote a thesis about deforestation in the Amazon.

A technical committee is currently compiling a list of potential candidates who can lead the institute for the long term.