Wave of Fires in Brazil Hits 68 Protected Areas This Week

Ilha Grande National Park (PR) has already lost at least 32.500 hectares of its vegetation cover

Fabiano Maisonnave Phillippe Watanabe
Manaus

A record number of fire outbreaks have hit Brazil this year. There have been 72,843 fire outbreaks, which represents an 83% increase over the same period last year, according to the National Institute for Space Research.

Uncontrolled, these fires are also impacting protected areas. This week alone, there were 68 fires within indigenous lands and state and federal protected areas.

The most affected area this year is the Ilha Grande National Park (PR). The fire has already destroyed 32,500 hectares, equivalent to 206 Ibirapuera Parks, according to a statement from Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio).

In Mato Grosso, the Chapada dos Guimarães National Park (MT), lost 12% of its vegetation, and the Araguaia Park Indigenous Land (TO), located on Bananal Island, has suffered 1,127 fire outbreaks since last year.

Campo Grande MS (Foto Saul Schramm/Governo MS) - Saul Schramm/Governo MS

Several of the protected areas affected by fires suffer from illegal invasions. This is the case of the Kadiweu Indigenous Land (MS) and the Jaci-Paraná Extractive Reserve (Resex) (RO), with respectively 39 and 16 hot spots since Monday (19).

The fire outbreak is often associated with deforestation. The Amazon Environmental Research Institute reported on Tuesday (20) that the ten Amazonian municipalities that most recorded outbreaks of fires were also the ones with the highest deforestation rates.

Together, they account for 37% of the hot flashes in 2019, and 43% of deforestation recorded until July. The most problematic municipalities are Apuí (AM), Altamira (PA), Porto Velho (RO) and Caracaraí (RR).

On the other hand, there are cases where the fire is used in a controlled way for clearing the fields, including in protected areas with human presence, such as indigenous lands and extractive reserves.

“Every deforestation sparks a fire, but every fire does not leads to deforestation,” says Arnaldo Carneiro Filho, a researcher at Inpa (National Institute for Amazon Research), based in Manaus.

Folha sent questions to Environment Minister Ricardo Salles, asking about the reasons for the increase in fires, but he did not respond before publication.

The report also requested information from ICMBio about the situation of burning in federal protected areas, but there was no response.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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