Fires in Brazil wetlands surge as drought looms

STORY: Wildfires in Brazil’s Pantanal wetlands so far this year have surged nearly tenfold compared to 2023.

According to local media on Tuesday, official satellite data showed a 980% increase in Pantanal fires through June 5th, compared to the same time the year before.

The figures have raised alarm as the peak wildfire season approaches.

They’re the highest levels seen since 2020.

Weak rains since late last year have disrupted seasonal flooding, making the region more vulnerable to fires.

And in the Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetland, the terrain makes those fires difficult to fight, according to Marcio Yule from Brazil’s environment ministry.

“It’s an area that’s difficult to access, with subterranean fires as well. These peat fires make combating them even harder.”

:: Courtesy: Instituto Homem Pantaneiro

The latest surge in fires follows unusual blazes in late 2023, when El Nino delayed the rainy season.

In November, more than 4,000 fires were recorded, compared to the historical average of 584.

On Wednesday, Brazil signed a pact with Pantanal and Amazon governors to fight the wildfires.

The state of Mato Grosso do Sul, where part of the wetlands lie, has already declared an environmental emergency.

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