Record Number Of Fires Ravages Amazon Rainforest In Brazil In 2024

In just one month, nearly 3,000 forest fires were registered in the Brazilian Amazon. This fiery month of February now holds the record for Brazilian wildfires since the recording of fires first began in this area.

INPE, the Space Research Institute of Brazil, reported last week that its satellites had picked up 2940 fires in the month of February. This tops the previous record by more than 1200 fires and is four times the amount of fires reported during the same month last year.

Fires are being blamed primarily on extreme droughts and dry forest conditions brought on by a steady heating up of the climate. “The climate factor certainly plays a role in this anomaly”, according to Ane Alencar, the scientific director of the Amazonian Research Institute (IPAM).

Deforestation for farming is also listed as a primary cause of wildfires in Brazil. A staggering 190,000 wildfire outbreaks were reported last year, largely triggered by rampant deforestation for agricultural development. The Yanomami Indigenous Territory, the area most devastated by this year’s fires, continually faces challenges from illegal mining and extensive deforestation for agriculture. By some estimates, the northern state of Roraima – where the Yanomami reserve sits – has lost half of its native vegetation to agricultural development.

Drought and forest fires have also heavily impacted Brazil’s tourism sector, with several tourism-based companies reporting temporary shutdowns. Travel agencies, jungle hotels, and houseboat companies are among those most impacted. Tourism Brazil and its partners have recently released an informational booklet to assist those in the tourism sector to become more disaster-resilient.

Brazil is home to over half of the Amazon’s rainforest, an area referred to as the ‘lungs of the world’. Since 2000, however, agriculture has been driving GDP growth in Brazil. Advancing cattle and soybean production has tripled the area of farmland and substantially reduced the rainforest. Fires in the area are causing devastation to the wildlife as well as the forest, with many animals killed directly or indirectly as a result of wildfires.

Animals that manage to survive the fires are often found suffering from what animal rescue groups refer to as ‘grey hunger’, as they try and exist in areas where fire has reduced the vegetation to ashes. Animal advocates are raising red flags about the coming wildfire season, as the actual dry season in Brazil does not start until June. Animals caught in fire-ravaged areas will face serious challenges ahead if the current drought conditions persist.

By this time of year, these regions of Brazil are typically being drenched by seasonal rains. Relentless drought conditions have kept these rains at bay, however, and Brazil is not the only nation suffering from a lack of rainfall. Extreme drought conditions are currently impacting nine South American nations. Experts state that this drought is fueled by climate change, with unprecedented global and regional temperatures altering the seasonal norms.

Scientists are warning that fire events like this past February in Brazil pose an even bigger threat. The Rainforest regions have now reached a tipping point where they are no longer able to bounce back from these catastrophic events, say the experts. Carlos Nobre, a senior scientist at the National Institute of Amazonian Research in Brazil, puts it bluntly: “We have to get to zero deforestation, zero forest degradation.” But all is not lost, according to Nobre. “We still have a chance to save the forest”.

Richard Weninger

Author: Richard Weninger


Richard Weninger is a Freelance writer with an extensive background in broadcast journalism and travel writing. He is a published author of both guidebooks and fiction novels. Richard is also an outspoken advocate for environmental causes and animal rights, with a passion for hiking and exploring

Leave a Comment