Worst June fires in Brazil's Amazon regions in 15 years

Photo by Joanne FrancisMore than 2500 fires were recorded in the Brazilian Amazon in June, according to data from the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe). This is the highest value of fires for the month of June in the past 15 years. A total of 3750 square kilometers of forest had been destroyed in the first half of the year. In June 2007, the Inpe had counted 3519 fires. Since then, June numbers have remained below 2000 fires each year - until 2019.

2019 was right-wing Jair Bolsonaro's first year as Brazilian president. He has repeatedly come under heavy criticism for devastating fires. Environmentalists accuse him of accepting the fires in order to open up new land for agriculture, cattle ranching and mining. At the same time, environmental and control authorities have been weakened.

"The dry season has barely begun and already the Amazon is breaking records in terms of environmental destruction. This is not surprising, as the region is highly threatened and there is a high level of illegality that continues to destroy large areas and human lives," Christiane Mazzetti, spokesperson for Greenpeace Brazil, said, according to a statement. "It's time to think about the Amazon we need for our future."

Even more threatened than the Amazon rainforest, however, are the Brazilian savannas in the center of the country from deforestation and slash-and-burn agriculture. In fact, the Inpe registered more than 4200 fires for the Cerrado - the highest number for June since 2010, when 6,443 fires were recorded. The Cerrado is the most important source of water for most regions of Brazil.

The Amazon rainforest is of central importance for global climate protection - it is considered the "green lung" of the earth.

Photo by Joanne Francis


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