Tuesday, July 23, 2024

The Amazon rainforest, battling multiple fires, experienced its worst first half in two decades


Brazil recorded 13,489 fires in the Amazon in the first half of the year, the worst number in two decades. Experts attribute the dramatic increase to historic droughts, particularly in the planet’s largest tropical forests.

Since the data began to be compiled by the Brazilian Institute of Space Research (INPE, public) in 1998, only two years have seen more fire outbreaks in the Amazon in the first half of the year: 2003 (17,143) and 2004 (17,340) from January 1 to June 30, according to satellite data available on Monday, July 1. , the total number seen up to 2024 is significantly higher than the same period in 2023 (8,344).

That’s bad news for the government of leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, while deforestation in the Amazon continues to decline, playing a major role in combating global warming. CO². According to INPE data, deforestation reached 1,525 km² from January 1 to June 21, compared to 2,649 km² in the first half of 2023, a decrease of 42%. Last year, it was halved compared to 2022. Lula has pledged to end illegal deforestation in the Amazon by 2030, which has increased under his far-right predecessor Jair Bolsonaro (2019-2022).

read more: The article is reserved for our subscribers Within a year of Lula’s return to power, Brazil has recorded a significant drop in deforestation in the Amazon

According to Romulo Bautista, spokesperson for the Brazilian branch of Greenpeace, “Climate Change Contributes” Especially for an increase in wildfires caused by an exceptional drought that hit the Amazon in 2023.

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“Unfortunately most natural biomes [les zones géographiques caractérisées par des écosystèmes et des conditions climatiques similaires] Brazilians experience water stress due to lack of rainfallHe explained to Agence France-Presse. Ecosystems are drying out, and dry vegetation is more susceptible to fire. » However, Romulo Bautista believes it “Most fire outbreaks are not spontaneous, or are caused by lightning.”. To him they were born “by human actions”Especially using slash and burn technique for agricultural extension.

Record fires in the Pantanal and Cerrado

Forest fires have reached record levels in the first half of the year in two other biomes south of the Amazon: the Pantanal, the planet’s largest wetland, and the Cerrado savanna.

In the Pantanal, the region at the center of the news in recent days, with clouds of smoke and flames reddening the sky, 3,538 fire outbreaks have been recorded since the beginning of the year, an increase of 2018% over the first half of 2023. This represents a nearly 40% increase compared to 2020, when all records were broken and 30% of the biomass was affected by fires throughout the year.

Also read the study: The article is reserved for our subscribers In Brazil, Amazon has land for sale on Facebook

In June alone, 2,639 fire outbreaks were identified, six times more than the previous record for this month of the year (435), dating back to 2005. The situation is very alarming as it usually reaches the peak of the fire. The second half of the year, especially in September, is at the heart of the dry season.

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The state of Mato Grosso in west-central Brazil, where most of the Pantanal is located, declared a state of emergency last week, and the government said it was sending reinforcements of firefighters from other regions to fight the blaze.


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The Cerrado, for its part, recorded as many fire outbreaks as the Amazon (13,229) in the first half of the year, beating the previous record, set in 2007 (13,214).

Also Read | The article is reserved for our subscribers In the Amazon, the uncertain results of the fight against fire

The world with AFP

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