More than 17,000 fires are burning in the Amazon’s rainforest, shocking new data shows.
October saw a huge surge in the number of hotspots in the forest – with more than double the amount detected in the same month last year.
And the number of fires so far this year remains at a decade high. In only the first 10 months, 2020 has already
surpassed the total number of fires for the full year in 2019, when the destruction spurred international criticism that Brazil was not doing enough to protect its forest.
Destruction of the forest has soared since right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro took office in 2019.
The president wants to develop the region to lift it out of poverty, but environmental advocates say his policies embolden illegal loggers, miners and ranchers.
Advocacy group WWF-Brasil blamed the government for failing to stop those who cut down the forest.
Its science manager Mariana Napolitano said: “With the rate of deforestation increasing in recent years,
the government has ignored the warnings of researchers: deforestation and forest fires go together.
“After cutting down the forest, the criminals set fires to clean up the accumulated organic material.”
The fires come at a time of rising temperatures globally. This September was the hottest on record across the world.
Surface temperatures worldwide were 0.05C higher than 2019, making it the hottest September since records began, according to the EU Copernicus Climate Change Service.
So warm was the earth’s surface that fires broke out in the region surrounding the Siberian Arctic which even led to mass incidents of ice melting.
And blazes in Brazil’s Pantanal, the world’s largest wetlands, also increased in October compared to a year ago, according to government space research agency Inpe.
The Pantanal, home to many rare species including the world’s densest population of jaguars, has recorded the most
fires this year since records began in 1998.