The increase of the wildfires this year has turned the world to the largest rainforest and largest biodiversity reserve on Earth. Thousands of warning messages in different languages circulate on social networks with the hashtag #PrayForAmazonia. The reason could not be worse: the Amazon is on fire.
There was so much international pressure that a decree was published in the Federal Official Gazette (DOU) on August 29, calling for a ban on burning in Brazil for sixty days.
The number of hot flashes in the Amazon is already 60% higher than in the previous three years. And this peak has not much to do with a stronger drought as one might suppose.
But if the drought does not explain the current burns, resuming forest clearing does so. Fire is commonly used to clear the ground after deforestation, and the relationship between the two factors is evident in an analysis of heat spots and the logging record made by the Deforestation Alert System.
Also see: Desafios do Manejo Florestal na Amazônia
Another major concern is in relation to burning in non-destined public forests, which occupy 15% of the Legal Amazon and account for 20% of the burning. These lands are the responsibility of the Union or the States and have not yet been allocated to protected areas, indigenous lands or other uses and as they have no defined governance, they become easy targets for land grabbers.
In addition to all these problems, there are still health-related problems, as smoke triggers a series of respiratory problems in those who live in the region, which also generates public health expenses and economic losses.
Given the complexity of the subject, I will try to make an overview of all the points surrounding this discussion.
A summary about the situation
Amazon fires cause more serious environmental damage than those in countries with other biomes. The main reasons are:
- Greater loss of biodiversity: the Amazon rainforest is the largest biome in the world and home to the richest diversity on the planet, according to ICMBio;
- Greater loss of plant matter: Because it is denser, the rainforest loses more biomass on burning;
- Higher carbon emissions per hectare: by burning more biomass, there is a higher emission of gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect;
- Greater difficulty in recovering vegetation cover: the Amazon biome is humid and the species are poorly fire resistant;
- Increased risk of affecting rain cycles: Forest moisture produces rainfall in Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina.
A problem from Brazil and the world
INPE’s data, compiled with the aid of NASA systems, show that there are three biomes that were particularly affected by the fires in August 2019: tundra, low vegetation that occurs in various regions of Russia; the savannah, which covers much of Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia; and the Amazon rainforest, hit by the fires in Brazil and Bolivia.
However, the impact of burning in the Amazon is more severe than in other areas, due to at least four main points: greater biodiversity loss, higher carbon emissions, difficulty in recovering flora and changes in the world’s rainfall regime. .
Unlike wildfires in temperate countries like the USA, Amazonian vegetation has not evolved over time living with the effects of fire. It is not prone to regenerate after a burn, as with the Cerrado. Another difference from the Cerrado is that, in the Amazon, all the fires are caused by man. The beginning of fire is always the result of human action. In periods of more intense drought, the flames can spread more easily.
Indeed, in times of drought, forest is fuel. Historically, during the low rainfall season, typically between July and September, a large number of fire outbreaks have been detected by INPE satellites.
Scientific studies have shown that the burning of this region usually results from the occupation and land use model, with the deforestation of large areas and consequent burning of vegetation, both pasture and primary forest to prepare the land for planting.
The practice is common in the national agriculture, mainly in the Cerrado and Legal Amazon region. Burning is used in pasture areas for the renewal or restoration of vegetation used to feed livestock, eliminating weeds and making nutrients more available in the soil. However, in the long run, this practice causes physical-chemical and biological degradation of the soil, and brings damage to the environment.
Given the points raised, we continue to await more concrete action from the government and to do our part in the fight for the environment.
Because there are so many factors to discuss and how this is a topic that involves different points of view, I count on your (readers) comments in the comments.
__________ xxx __________