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Brazil reports more Amazon fires so far this year than all of 2021

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A view of a burned area in the Amazon rainforest in Candes de Jamari, Rondônia state, northern Brazil, in September

A view of a burned area in the Amazon rainforest in Candes de Jamari, Rondônia state, northern Brazil, on September 2, 2022.

The number of wildfires in the Brazilian Amazon region so far this year has already surpassed the figure for the whole of 2021, according to official figures released Monday that raised a new alarm for the world’s largest rainforest.

Satellite monitoring detected 75,592 fires from January 1 to September 18, already higher than the 75,090 fires detected in the whole of last year, according to the Brazilian space agency INPE.

The latest bleak news from the rainforest is likely to add to the pressure on President Jair Bolsonaro, who is fighting to win re-election next month and faces international criticism over increasing devastation in the Amazon under his watch.

Since the far-right agribusiness ally took office in January 2019, average deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has increased 75 percent from the previous decade, destroying forest cover for an area roughly the size of Puerto Rico last year.

Experts say the Amazon fires are mainly caused by illegal farmers, ranchers and speculators clearing land and burning trees.

Despite the advanced destruction, the Bolsonaro administration slashed budgets for environmental enforcement operations and pushed to open the Amazon’s protected lands to mining.

Greenpeace Brazil spokesman Andre Freitas described the latest figures as an “expected tragedy”.

“After four years of clear and objective anti-environment policy of the Federal Government, we see that as we approach the end of this government’s term – one of the darkest periods ever for the Brazilian environment – land grabbers and other illegal actors see it as an ideal opportunity to advance in the jungle” .

Election year row

This year has been worrying for the Amazon, a key buffer against global warming.

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon last month was nearly double the number since August 2021, at 1,661 square kilometers (641 square miles).

Since the fire season began in earnest in August with drier weather, the number of fires has increased.

According to the data of the National Institute of Environmental Protection, several days passed past the so-called “Day of Fire” on August 10, 2019, when farmers launched a coordinated plan to burn huge amounts of rainforest cut down in the northern state of Para.

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Then, the fires unleashed thick gray smoke all the way to São Paulo, some 2,500 kilometers (1,500 miles) away, and sparked global outrage over images of the burning of one of Earth’s most important resources.

Bolsonaro vehemently rejects those criticisms, insisting that Brazil “protects its forests much better than Europe,” and set off international alarm bells with a sentence: “The Amazon belongs to the Brazilians, and always will.”

The frontrunner to vie to oust him in next month’s presidential election, former leftist president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, has pledged to do a better job of protecting the Amazon.

Deforestation has fallen sharply in Brazil’s 60 percent share of the Amazon Basin under Lula, from about 28,000 square kilometers in 2004 to 7,000 square kilometers in 2010.

However, he has faced criticism from environmentalists for his track record, which notably included the controversial decision to build the massive Belo Monte hydroelectric dam in the Amazon.

The highest number of fires ever recorded by INPE in the Brazilian Amazon, whose records date back to 1998, was in its hour: 218,637, in 2004.


Brazil records worst day for Amazon fires in 15 years


© 2022 AFP

the quote: Brazil has reported more Amazon fires so far this year than all of 2021 (2022, September 19) Retrieved September 20, 2022 from

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