Brazilian amazon: a very sharp increase in fires

Amazonie brésilienne: très forte augmentation des incendies

RIO DE JANEIRO | The number of forest fires in the brazilian Amazon increased by 28% last month compared to July 2019, according to the satellite data published Saturday, fueling fears that the largest tropical rainforest in the world is again devastated by fires this year.

The space Institute national of Brazil, INPE, has identified 6803 fires in the amazon region in July 2020, compared with 5318 the previous year.

On the single day of July 30, the satellites have detected 1007 fires in the Amazon, said INPE, the worst day for a month of July since 2005, has pointed out the NGO environmental advocacy Greenpeace.

This figure is even more worrisome for researchers because of 2019 has already been a year devastating for the Amazon, sparking protests in the world.

As a result, pressures increased on the Brazil, ruled by the president of extreme right-wing Jair Bolsonaro, to which it is committed to do more to protect this huge forest, that scientists believe are vital in the fight against climate change.

The fires were mainly for the purpose of clearing illegally land to make room for agriculture, livestock or mining.

A thousand fires in one day

The activists accuse Mr. Bolsonaro, notoriously skeptical about climate change, encourage deforestation with calls to open the tropical forest to agricultural activity and industry.

“More than a thousand fires in a single day, this is a record for 15 years and this shows that the government’s strategy to conduct operations in a diversion media does not work on the ground”, said in a statement the spokesperson for Greenpeace in Brazil, Romulo Batista.

The president Bolsonaro has mobilized the army to fight the fires, but environmentalists say that it won’t attack the real causes of the fires and deforestation.

The spokesperson of Greenpeace Brazil has explained that the fight actually fire volunteers to clear illegally land would require measures other than those taken by the brazilian authorities.

“In the texts, these fires are prohibited, but the ban only works if there is also a response on the ground, with more patrols. The criminals are not especially known to comply with the law,” says Romulo Batista.

In addition, the administration Bolsonaro has reduced the budget, staff and programs of the environmental agency of brazil, Ibama.

“Thrown out the window”

“Everything that was working was thrown by the window”, said to AFP Erika Berenguer, a biologist specialist of the Amazon who does research for the british universities of Oxford and Lancaster.

The season of fires in the Amazon generally runs from June to October.

But the fires are only one of the causes of deforestation. During the rest of the year, ranchers, farmers, miners and speculators “preparing” of the forested areas in order to burn them afterwards.

The first six months of 2020 has been the period during which the deforestation of the brazilian Amazon has been the largest since statistics do exist: according to data from the INPE, 3069 square kilometres have been razed.

If a significant portion of these areas where trees have been felled is burned in 2020, the situation could become catastrophic, warn experts.

In 2019, the number of fires had already increased of 200% in August year-over-year, with 30 900 fires listed. Sao Paulo, the city located a thousand miles away, had been covered by a thick cloud of ash.

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