Forest fires in the Brazilian Amazon are not new. Fire Season usually lasts from July to November, but recent burning throughout September has left authorities concerned. According to records, this past month had more wildfires than any month ever before documented - 106,000 to be exact.
Alberto Setzer, coordinator of the fire monitoring satellite program of the National Institute of Space Research (INPE) says that while climate change is the main factor (for reducing the precipitation in the region), the fires are also due to illegal logging and agriculture.
Setzer stresses: “It is fundamental to understand that these are not natural fires. They are manmade.” Farmers often use fire as a tool for clearing land to make pastures for raising cattle or fields for crops. Although burning is technically illegal and carries heavy fines, experts say that the government often fails to enforce the surveillance of wildfires.
This is particularly threatening to indigenous lands, whose people are being pushed out of the Amazon forests due to the fires. Sonia Guajajara, National Coordinator of the Association of Indigenous Peoples reports that illegal loggers are known to try to force residents off territory by setting it ablaze.
Nearly half of the land burned from the blazes were in the Amazon biome, with the Amazonian state of Pará the most affected. Pará, where two municipalities São Félix de Xingu and Altamira were devastated, has a 229% increase in fires from last year.
Unfortunately, it seems that the combination of deforestation, climate change, reduced rainfall, agricultural practices, mining, ranching, and political oversight has created a perfect storm.