Brazil bans land-clearing fires as Amazon wildfires continue

The Brazilian government on Wednesday imposed a ban on the practice of setting fires to clear land for crops and cattle during dry seasons amid its intense fight against the ongoing devastating wildfires in the Amazon rainforest.

Under the ban, applications for burning forests in the following 60 days will not be allowed. Indigenous Brazilians' agricultural activities are not subjected to the ban.

Brazil put a ban on land-clearing fires for 60 days. /VCG Photo

Brazil put a ban on land-clearing fires for 60 days. /VCG Photo

As of August 27, a total of 6,145 fires have been registered in Brazil's northwestern state of Amazonas during the month. This is a new record for the number of fires registered within a month since the country's National Institute for Space Research (INPE) started keeping records in 1998.

Amazonas' neighboring state of Rondonia is also being heavily affected. Continuous high temperatures and dry weather added to the challenge of trying to control the flames.

Brazil has come under pressure from the international community to better preserve the Amazon rainforest, after the fires that continue to raze vast swaths of forest came to light. 

Burnt rainforest in the Amazon. /VCG Photo

Burnt rainforest in the Amazon. /VCG Photo

The country is home to about 60 percent of the Amazon rainforest, which covers an area of around 5.5 million square kilometers in South America. A total of 71,497 forest fires were recorded in Brazil in the first eight months of 2019, up from 39,194 a year ago, according to INPE data. 

Such fires occur yearly as farmers clear land to grow crops or graze cattle, but this year's fire season is the most intense in a decade and has drawn global concern.

The Brazilian government has mobilized over 40,000 military personnel and armed police and granted 38.5 million Brazilian reals (about 9.2 million U.S. dollars) to fight against the forest fire. 

(Video, cover image via VCG)

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