The number of wildfires simultaneously raging through the Brazilian Amazon is at its highest in 15 years, with 3,358 different fires igniting within 24 hours on Monday, the national space research institute INPE reports.
That’s almost three times as many as the most devastating day in August 2019, when images of the burning rainforest went viral around the world, De Morgen writes.
The INPE has been tracking the number of wildfires in the world’s largest rainforest on a daily basis from space since 1998. It comes as no surprise to INPE boss Alberto Setzer that the highest number of fires since 2007 was reached this week, who told French news agency AFP that “The fires are moving further and further north."
Last month, a total of 5,373 fires were seen on satellite images – an 8% increase from July last year. The Amazon is heading for “the worst August” in a generation, with 24,124 fires so far. During his time in power, President Jair Bolsonaro invariably put economic interests above conservation.
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Forest fires often go hand in hand with deforestation. On 10 August 2019, farmers set fire to areas of rainforest creating a thick cloud of black smoke that was seen 2,500 kilometres away in Sao Paulo. The world reacted with outrage.
The many fires raging this week are not coordinated, according to Setzer, but the result of increased illegal logging activity.
Earlier this year, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) noted that significantly more rainforest is being cut down. The nature organisation made a connection with the upcoming presidential elections in Brazil and with the war in Ukraine, which has brought Russian exports of various raw materials to a standstill. Brazil is trying to cash in on the shortfall.