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Fires in Brazil’s Amazon surge in September, worst month since 2010

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SAO PAULO: Fires in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest have surged in September, already making it the worst month in more than a decade, government data showed on Monday, after a jump in deforestation during an election year.

National space research agency INPE reported 36,850 fire alerts in the region so far this month, a 120pc rise over the full month last year and the worst on record for any month since September 2010, when INPE issued 43,933 alerts.

With that, the total fire alerts so far this year climbed to 82,872, surpassing the 75,090 recorded in all of 2021.

Fires in the Amazon tend to peak in August and September, considered the burning season in the region, when rains subside to let ranchers and farmers often set fire to deforested areas.

This month, however, they have already surpassed the average of 32,110 fires for September, according to INPE satellite data dating back to 1998.

Destruction of Brazil’s rainforest often picks up in election years, when law enforcement typically ebbs and loggers race ahead with plans ahead of a possible shift in conservation policy.

“Fires are not a natural phenomenon in the Amazon rainforest. These burnings are related to human activities, often illegal, and degradation levels that make it more susceptible to fires,” said Mariana Napolitano, WWF-Brasil’s science manager.

Brazilians will vote on Oct 2 whether to give a second term to President Jair Bolsonaro, who has rolled back environmental protections, seeing deforestation in the Amazon surge to a 15-year high.

Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2022

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