Satellites of Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research detected 1,669 fires on Friday at Pantanal, a biodiversity sanctuary located in the southern Amazon.
This is more than triple the 494 outbreaks detected in the same period in 2019, and marks July as the worst month since monitoring of deflagrations which began in 1998. To date, the worst July occurred in 2005, when 1,259 outbreaks were recorded.
Between January and July 31, a total of 4,203 fires were recorded in the wetlands, considered one of the largest in the world, home to numerous animal species and shared territory with Bolivia and Paraguay.
Since last Saturday, five aircraft from the Armed Forces and a contingent of 320 military, firemen and civilians have been fighting the flames in an operation deployed in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, which together with its neighbor Mato Grosso form the Pantanal.
Meanwhile, the Amazon jungle, located north of the Pantanal, recorded 6,091 fires during July. Because of the dry season, experts fear that the situation will worsen in August, despite the federal government’s ban on burning and its promise to reduce deforestation, which is linked to the fires.
Between January and June, deforestation in the Amazon covered 3,070 square km, an area 25 percent larger than that deforested during the first half of last year.
Environmentalists accuse the far-right government of Jair Bolsonaro of promoting deforestation as a way to legalize agricultural and mining activities in protected areas. They also believe that instead of penalizing those who practice environmental crimes, the Executive is standing by those who profit from such destruction.