Big Dry And Legal Doubts Fuel Progress To New Forest Burn Boom In Brazil



High temperatures, low humidity and uncertainty

over the future of forest laws are fuelling a boost in

forest fires over much of Brazil.

Overnight on August 30, satellite data collected by the National Institute of Space Researches (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais – INPE) showed 177 fire spots in central and central west Brazil and also in the north, south and south east of the country.

The 45,860 forest fires recorded so far this year is nearly 50 per cent higher than from the equivalent January to August period in 2009, putting Brazil on track to exceed the fire totals for 2007, the highest in the last five years.

While high temperatures – 30-35 degrees C in central Brazil – and humidity readings of under 20 per cent are undoubtedly contributing, Alberto Setzer, INPEs Forest Fire Monitoring coordinator, believes that the increase of fire occurrences this year is also related to the undefined future of the Brazilian Forest Code, which has been under severe attack by some sectors of the Brazilian Congress.

The current forest-burning season will not figure on the next release of annual deforestation rates, but the intense degradation facilitates illegal deforestation.

“Soon, many of these areas will no longer be forests,” Setzer said. “In fact, burning the forest is usually the first and cheapest step to clean out a forest area.”

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