According to the agency, there were 68,345 fires in the Amazon region in 2018, but that number spiked to 89,178 in 2019. Although there was an increase in the number of fires, the totals for both 2018 and 2019 were still below the Amazon’s average, which is around 109,000 fires per year.
INPE’s fire monitoring program also revealed that forest fires have surged in the last year in other Brazilian regions, such as the tropical wetland Pantanal and the tropical savanna ecoregion of Cerrado.
The Amazon is the world’s largest rainforest, absorbing huge amounts of carbon dioxide and producing 20% of the world’s oxygen. In August, the Amazon experienced massive fires, prompting widespread global concern among environmental experts over the effects on the climate of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s policies, which have promoted land clearance and deforestation.
Bolsonaro last January also declared that he would allow commercial mining and farming on reservation lands – an initiative slammed by the nation’s indigenous community and environmentalists.
Brazil was not the only area of the globe to face wildfires in 2019, as blazes have also engulfed Australia since September. So far, bushfires have scorched more than 14.7 million acres of land, which is an area greater than both the countries of both Haiti and Belgium combined.