Brazil has had years far worse than 2019 in forest fires, but since 2004, when the real-time analysis of deforestation began, this is the first time that so many fires have been recorded in a country. year of moderate drought, according to specialists.
The real-time deforestation assessment system (Deter) was launched in 2004 after several record years of deforestation. It was then a question of reacting with more speed and precision to contain the phenomenon.
Between early January and August 29, satellite data from the National Institute of Space Research (INPE) recorded 87,257 fires, including 51.9% in the Amazon. These figures are updated daily, while Brazil still has at least a month and a half of dry season ahead.
The INPE data show that since 2004, there have been more fires in the dry season in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2010, years marked by more severe droughts than at present, explains Rodrigo Junqueira, researcher at the Socio-Environmental Institute (ISA), an NGO.
"When there are climatic phenomena like El Nino, there is a greater propensity for fires, because the environment is very dry," he adds.
Experts say that the dry season is this year wetter than in previous years and recall that in the Amazon no fire is of natural origin.
"The incidence of fires in the Amazon region is directly related to human activity and the flames are used to follow the lines of deforestation: the more deforest, the more fires are numerous," says the Institute for Environmental Research of the Amazon (IPAM).
The organization has published a study showing that the municipalities with the highest number of fires were also those that experienced greater deforestation.
Antonio Oviedo, a researcher at ISA, points out that the Brazilian Amazon has concentrated more than half of the country's fires since the beginning of the dry season in July.
Between July 20th and August 20th, 65.1% of the total fires occurred in the Amazonian regions. "The Amazon has never concentrated so much fire in Brazil," he notes.
The scientist assures that the previous record for the Amazon at this time dates back to 2005, with 46% of total fires.