Brazil witnesses loss of 2.15 million hectares due to fires
The Amazon and Cerrado biomes suffered the most significant impact
Published on 26/07/2023 - 10:10 By Agência Brasil - São Paulo - Agência Brasil - São Paulo
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In the first half of this year, Brazil witnessed 2.15 million hectares burned, as reported by MapBiomas Brasil—a collaborative network comprising NGOs, universities, and technology companies that produce land cover and usage reports. This figure represents a 1 percent decrease from the corresponding period last year.
Around 84 percent of the burned areas consisted of native vegetation, predominantly found in grassland formations.
Among the biomes, the Amazon had the largest burned area in the semester, with 1.45 million hectares devastated, accounting for 68 percent of Brazil's total burned area—a 14 percent increase compared to the same period in 2022.
The Cerrado biome trailed behind with 639,000 hectares scorched—accounting for 30 percent of the country's total burned area and a 2 percent increase from last year's corresponding period.
Vera Arruda, the operational coordinator of MapBiomas Fogo and a researcher at the Amazon Environmental Research Institute, said in a note: “In the first half of 2023, the Cerrado experienced a burn area in line with recent-year averages, notably due to prescribed burning actions as part of the Integrated Fire Management (MIF) forest fire prevention strategy. However, June witnessed a notable increase in burn area compared to previous months, as the dry season in the biome began. The situation could potentially worsen with the arrival of the El Niño phenomenon.”
The report revealed a decline in burned areas in the Atlantic Forest (10,220 hectares) and the Pantanal (13,000 hectares), marking the lowest figures in the last five years.
The Caatinga also witnessed a positive trend with a smaller burned area of 818 hectares. In the Pampa biome, 7,000 hectares were subjected to flames.
Nearly half of the burned area in Brazil during January to June this year concentrated in Roraima, an Amazonian state, witnessing the destruction of one million hectares. Following closely were Mato Grosso (258,000 hectares) and Tocantins (254,000 hectares), collectively accounting for 82 percent of the total burned area.
While half-yearly data suggested relative stability, June unveiled a concerning spike in fires compared to the same period the previous year. With 543,000 hectares burned, this marked a 203 percent increase from May 2023. Native vegetation bore the brunt, accounting for 81 percent of the area scorched in June.
In June, the Cerrado witnessed the highest burn area of 425,000 hectares, trailed by the Amazon with 102,000 hectares.
Translation: Mário Nunes - Edition: Nádia Franco