INPE: 72,843 fires wreak havoc in Amazon rainforest

Updated: Aug 22, 2019, 12:11 IST | Agencies

INPE said since Thursday satellite images spotted 9,507 new forest fires in the country, mostly in the Amazon basin, home to the world's largest tropical forest seen as vital to countering global warming

Representation picture
Representation picture

Brasilia: As concerns rise over right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro's environmental policy, wildfires raging in the Amazon rainforest hit a record number this year, with 72,843 fires detected so far by Brazil's space research center INPE. There has been an 83 per cent increase over the same period in 2018, the agency said on Tuesday, and is the highest since records began in 2013.

INPE said since Thursday satellite images spotted 9,507 new forest fires in the country, mostly in the Amazon basin, home to the world's largest tropical forest seen as vital to countering global warming.

Images show the northernmost state of Roraima covered in dark smoke. Amazonas declared an emergency in the south of the state and in its capital Manaus on August 9. Acre, on the border with Peru, has been on environmental alert since Friday due to the fires.

Wildfires have increased in Mato Grosso and Para, two states where Brazil's agricultural frontier has pushed into the Amazon basin and spurred deforestation. Wildfires are common in the dry season, but are also deliberately set by farmers illegally deforesting land for cattle ranching.

The unprecedented surge in wildfires has occurred since Bolsonaro took office in January vowing to develop the Amazon region for farming and mining, ignoring concern over increased deforestation. Asked about the spread of fires, Bolsonaro brushed off criticism, saying it was the time of the year of the "queimada" or burn, when farmers use fire to clear land. Space agency INPE, however, said the large number of wildfires could not be attributed to the dry season or natural phenomena alone. Agencies

9,507
No. of new forest fires detected

9 Aug
Day an emergency was declared in southern Roraima

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