Brazil's Amazon rainforest sees worst 6 months of wildfires in 20 years, data shows

Brazil's Amazon rainforest saw its worst six-month period of wildfires in 20 years despite a decrease in deforestation, satellite data showed Monday. The 13,489 wildfires – likely sparked by agricultural burning – recorded from January to June 2024 represents a more than 60 percent increase year-on-year.

The Brazilian Amazon recorded 13,489 wildfires in the first half of the year, the worst figure in 20 years, satellite data revealed Monday.

The total was up more than 61 percent compared to the same period last year -- an increase that experts say is the result of a historic drought that struck the world's largest tropical rainforest last year.

Since Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE) began compiling records in 1998, only two other years experienced more wildfires from January through June: 2003 (17,143) and 2004 (17,340).

The data makes for difficult news for the government of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, with the number of fires increasing even as deforestation in the Amazon -- which helps reduce global warming by absorbing carbon dioxide -- is on the wane.

According to INPE data, the surface area subject to deforestation decreased 42 percent from January 1 to June 21, as compared with the same period in 2023.


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