The number of fires in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest jumped 28% in July from a year ago, official data showed on Saturday, as some environmentalists warned a jump this week could signal a repeat of last year’s surging destruction of the world’s largest rainforest.
Brazil’s space research agency Inpe recorded 6,803 fires in the Amazon last month, up from 5,318 in July 2019.
Although that is a three-year high for July, the figure pales in comparison to last year’s peak of 30,900 fires in August – a 12-year high for that month.
Still, environmental groups say there are worrying signs of what may come, with the final days of the month showing a sharp spike. More than 1,000 fires were registered on July 30, the highest number for a single day in July since 2005, according to an analysis by advocacy group Greenpeace Brasil.
“It’s a terrible sign,” said Ane Alencar, science director at Brazil’s Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM). “We can expect that August will already be a difficult month and September will be worse yet.”
Environmental advocates blame right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro for emboldening illegal loggers, miners and land speculators to destroy the forest with his vision of economic development for the region. Bolsonaro defends his plans to introduce mining and farming in protected reserves as a way to lift the region out of poverty