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Amazon's Fires Almost as Harmful to the Environment as Deforestation

02/14/2018 - 10h58

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REINALDO JOSÉ LOPES
FOLHA CONTRIBUTOR

Reducing the Amazon's deforestation was Brazil's greatest contribution to fight climate change in the past few decades, but such effort may be reduced to ashes, according to a new study.

Heat waves in the forest region, jointly with a higher vulnerability to fires, among other factors, have caused large fires whose effects are almost as damaging to the environment as deforestation.

Scientist of Inpe (National Institute for Space Research) have done the math in an article recently published in the scientific journal "Nature Communications".

The drought of 2015, for example, led to a 36% increase of fires in the Amazon forest compared to the average of the 12 previous years.

The combustion of vegetal matter resulting from this process can release approximately 1 billion metric tons of CO2 (carbon dioxide) in the atmosphere, in only one year - more than half of what is produced by deforestation in the Amazon.

It is possible that the Amazon fires are no longer a result of deforestation. Instead of areas of primary forest burnt down to make for new farmland, large fires, when not accidental, have become increasingly more common as a by-product of other processes.

At this pace, implementing smarter fire control strategies in the region will be crucial both to protect the Amazon's biodiversity and to reduce the country's CO2 emissions.

Translated by ANA BEATRIZ DEMARIA

Read the article in the original language

Adam Ronan
Smoke plume from a mega-fire during the 2015 drought in Eastern Amazonia
Smoke plume from a mega-fire during the 2015 drought in Eastern Amazonia

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