Strong increase in fires despite fire bans

The number of fires in the Amazon has increased by 28% in July, compared to the same month last year. This is happening in spite of a 120-day fire ban that was introduced earlier in July at the request of international investors.

According to the Brazilian Space Research Institute, INPE, satellite surveillance shows 6,804 fires in July this year, compared to 5,318 in July last year. Satellite image analyzes from the MAAP project show that the fires are directly connected to areas that have recently been deforested.

- The fires will increase in the coming weeks, in the same way as last year. This is not a natural phenomenon, but a result of large forest areas being destroyed and exposed to fire. This is a symptom of the policies pursued by Brazil. It is a policy that puts the whole world in danger, because we are all dependent on the rainforest, says Secretary General of the Rainforest Foundation, Øyvind Eggen.

Another disastrous year for the Amazon rainforest

A large increase in drought and the expected hurricane season could make the fires in August even more dangerous than last year, with an increased risk of ignited fires spreading to more intact rainforests, although this has not yet happened in the Amazon so far this year.

- There are many indications that this summer will also end with environmental disasters in Brazil. Now it is more important than ever that politicians, business and consumers demand that the government in Brazil stop the destruction, Eggen says.

Eggen emphasizes that he also sees positive signs. - The figures from INPE show, among other things, a solid reduction of fires in the state of Rondônia. This might be a sign that the authorities' fire ban and military presence still have a calming effect on the fires themselves, even though we do not see signs of an effect of this elsewhere and the underlying deforestation problem persists, he says.

The Brazilian research institute IPAM has estimated that about 4,500 square kilometers of forest that was deforested in 2019 has not yet been burned.

Wants more economic pressure on Brazil

Although both fires and deforestation in 2020 might become as disastrous as last year, Eggen still believes that the international involvement has been effective.

- Our highest hope now is more financial pressure. The consideration for the international market has led to the Brazilian authorities being uneasy and has initiated measures to limit the destruction, Eggen says.

- Several Norwegian investors and importers have contributed to this, and it seems that the situation would have been much worse without the international involvement. But that is not enough, and the pressure must increase.