The number of forest fires in the Brazilian Amazon increased by 28% last month compared to July 2019, according to satellite data released on Saturday. The world’s largest rainforest is at risk of being devastated by fires again.
Brazil’s National Space Institute, INPE, identified 6,803 fires in the Amazon region in July 2020, up from 5,318 the previous year. On the day of July 30 alone, satellites detected 1,007 fires in the Amazon, said the INPE, the worst day for a month of July since 2005, said Greenpeace.
This figure is even more worrying for researchers because 2019 has already been a devastating year for the Amazon, prompting protests around the world.
As a result, pressure has increased on Brazil, ruled by ultra-conservative President Jair Bolsonaro, to commit to doing more to protect this gigantic forest. Scientists believe it is vital in the fight against climate change.
The main purpose of the fires is to illegally clear land in order to make room for agriculture, animal husbandry or mining. Environmental activists accuse Bolsonaro, who has been skeptical of climate change, of encouraging deforestation with calls to open up the rainforest to agriculture and industry.
“More than a thousand fires in a single day is a record for 15 years and it shows that the government’s strategy of carrying out media entertainment operations is not working on the ground,” said the spokesperson for Greenpeace- Brazil, Romulo Batista, in a statement.
President Bolsonaro mobilized the army to fight the fires. Environmentalists believe, however, that it is not addressing the real causes of fires and deforestation.