In Brazil, extraordinary fires burn the largest wetland in the world

In Brazil, extraordinary fires burn the largest wetland in the world
In Brazil, extraordinary fires burn the largest wetland in the world

ENVIRONMENT – Anteaters, giant otters, jaguars, armadillos, sloths… These animals all live in a biodiversity sanctuary, the largest wetland on the planet, the Pantanal, in the south of the Amazon. An area located straddling Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia, and which is prey to fires even before the start of the dry season. The record for fire outbreaks for the month of June has already been shattered.

From January 1 to June 20, the Brazilian Institute for Space Research recorded 2,628 outbreaks in the Pantanal, more than in the first half of 2020, the year ended with the highest number of fires ever recorded in this biome.

Arson accentuated by climate change

“Everything suggests that we are facing another extreme climatic event, which makes us fear for the future of the biome in the coming months, when the drought will have reached its peak”worries Claudio Angelo, member of the Climate Observatory NGO collective, to AFP.

Paulo Artaxo, physicist, professor at the University of São Paulo and member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) explains the context which favors these outbreaks of fire: “ The Pantanal, like the entire central region of Brazil, is experiencing one of the worst droughts in history this year caused by climate change. » Before specifying: “ But even though we have seen a big reduction in precipitation, it is important to emphasize that most of these fires are arson. They seriously damage the ecosystem”.

Furthermore, Paulo Artaxo recalls that these fires are aggravated by the expansion of land devoted to crops and livestock in the region.

Drought after the torrential rains of May

To mitigate the effects of these devastating fires, the researcher urges the Brazilian authorities to press hard on the accelerator pedal. “ We must mobilize the Federal Police, the army, all the means available to Brazil to deter arson, which constitutes environmental crimes. It is possible to carry out controls by defining priority areas, where the propensity for these arson attacks is higher,” continues the one who fears for the future of the Pantanal.

Brazil was already hit by an unprecedented climatic disaster in May, when flooding caused by heavy rains killed more than 170 people in the south of the country.

“After the heavy rains we will have drought, probably in the Amazon and the Pantanal (…)”, declared the Brazilian Minister of the Environment, Marina Silva, on June 5, on the occasion of World Environment Day. Extreme events that she attributed to “combination of weather phenomena like El Niño and intensifying climate change”. All with disastrous consequences for the planet.

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