Fires Die Down in the Amazon, But Rage Elsewhere in Brazil
(Bloomberg) -- Brazil’s caatinga, a desert-like biome in the country’s Northeast, is suffering from its most severe blazes since 2003 as fires that ravaged the Amazon rainforest and Pantanal wetland in the last two years fade.
The Amazon is on pace to record about half as many fire points this month than it did in September of last year, while the Pantanal is set to register about one third, according to daily data from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research. In 2019 and 2020, images of burning trees, wounded jaguars and charred alligators caught up in fires in both regions put Brazil’s environmental policies in the spotlight.
By contrast, the country’s arid Northeastern region, home to the biome known as caatinga, has seen a significant upswing. Almost twice as many fires burned in September compared to the same month last year, the government data show, the most since 2003.
The caatinga, a subtropical desert-like ecosystem, accounts for 10% of Brazil’s land and is the only biome that occurs only in the country. That uniqueness amplifies the impact of the fires: thousands of plant and animal species are endemic to the caatinga, and found exclusively there. As in other parts of the country, one leading source of the flames is the use of fire to clear land to utilize the ground for agriculture or ranching.
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