Brazil last month recorded the largest number of May forest fires in the Amazon since 2004, according to official data released today by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE).
The institute’s satellites detected 2,287 fires in the Amazon region in May, nearly double the number in the same period last year. It is the second most destructive May in the history of the Amazon rainforest, after the record set in 2004 when there were 3,131 fires.
In Cerrado, a savannah region rich in biodiversity, at least 3,578 fires were recorded last month, the highest number since the National Institute for Nuclear Research began collecting data in 1998.
Environmentalists point out that Brazil has seen a massive increase in wildfires and deforestation since far-right President Jair Bolsonaro took office in January 2019. She added that his government “is ignoring science and Brazil will pay for it.” Most fires are said to have been deliberately started, usually by farms looking to turn forests or wetlands into fields or mining companies looking to expand their operations in the Amazon, although this is usually prohibited by law.
The month may not traditionally be the month when most wildfires are experienced, and the peak usually occurs in August and September. The already high numbers suggest that 2022 will be a particularly devastating year.
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