São Paulo, Brazil, Aug. 22, 2019 – Over the past days, forest fires have been ravaging the Brazilian Amazon region. The number of fire outbreaks recorded in the Amazon in 2019 is one of the largest in recent years. Between January and August 20, the number of fires has increased 145% compared to the same period in 2018.
The number of forest fires is higher in the Amazon regions most affected by deforestation practices, as fires are one of the main tools used for deforestation, including by farmers. Eight out of ten municipalities most affected by fires have also recorded the highest numbers of deforestation alerts, according to data from the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) (1).
Danicley Aguiar of Greenpeace Brazil said: “Those who destroy the Amazon and let deforestation continue unabated are encouraged in doing so by the Bolsonaro government’s actions and policies. Since taking office, the current government has been systematically dismantling Brazil’s environmental policy.”
In recent days the water from the Rios Voadores, which carry moisture from the Amazon to the south and centre-west of the continent, has been replaced by smoke, which has been spotted in the states of São Paulo and Paraná.
Forest fires and climate change operate in a vicious cycle: as the number of fires increase, so do greenhouse gas emissions, increasing the planet’s overall temperature and the occurrence of extreme weather events, such as major droughts.
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In addition to increasing emissions, deforestation contributes directly to a change in rainfall patterns in the affected region, extending the length of the dry season, further affecting forests, biodiversity, agriculture and human health.
Recent attacks by the Brazilian government against the Amazon Fund have already resulted in blocking R$ 288 million in donations from Norway and Germany. This will have serious consequences for the fight against deforestation and forest fires in the Amazon. At the end of 2018, monitoring actions and forest fires prevention represented 47% of the amount allocated to projects supported by the Fund, totaling R$ 891 million. Of this total, about 90% went to projects implemented by entities of the Brazilian public administration (federal, state and municipal governments), revealing the strategic importance of the Fund for the conservation of the Amazon.