Wildfires rage in Brazil's Amazon forests, 83% rise from last year

Amazon forest are a vital carbon store that slows down the pace of global warming.

August 22, 2019 04:31 pm | Updated 04:32 pm IST

Wildfires raging in the Amazon rainforest have hit a record number this year, with 72,843 fires detected so far by Brazil's space research center INPE, as concerns grow over right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro's environmental policy.

The surge marks an 83% increase over the same period of 2018, the agency said on August 20, and is the highest since records began in 2013.

Satellite images showed Brazil’s most northern state, Roraima, covered in dark smoke, while neighbouring Amazonas state declared an emergency over the fires. The hashtags #PrayforAmazonas and #AmazonRainforest were trending on Twitter on Wednesday.

US space agency NASA said: “Although it is not unusual to see fires in Brazil at this time of year due to high temperatures and low humidity it seems this year the number of fires may be record setting.”

The largest rainforest in the world, the Amazon is a vital carbon store that slows down the pace of global warming. It is also home to about three million species of plants and animals, and one million indigenous people.

Environmental activists blamed President Bolsonaro for the current situation, saying he encouraged loggers and farmers to clear the land. Scientists say the rainforest has suffered losses at an accelerated rate since he took office in January.

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