Brazil sees area burned by fire nearly double in November
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Fires scorched almost two million acres of territory in Brazil in November, according to data released by an NGO group Wednesday, nearly 90 percent more than in the same month last year.
That is an area about three-quarters of the size of the Brazilian Amazon city of Manaus.
More than 80 percent of the burned land is located in the Amazon rainforest, according to MapBiomas, the NGO consortium made up of nonprofits, Brazilian universities and startups that use satellite imagery to track the destruction of natural lands.
"The data confirms the escalation of environmental destruction in the final months of the Bolsonaro government," the organization said in a statement.
Fires and deforestation have increased since right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a proponent of expanding mining and farming in the Amazon, took office in 2019.
In October, Bolsonaro lost re-election to leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who will take office in January and has promised to "fight for zero deforestation."
For MapBiomas, the spike in November's fire numbers was a surprise as the month usually coincides with the rainy season.
"Clearly this is a reaction to the expectation of more effective anti-deforestation and anti-fire policies from the new government," said Ane Alencar, MapBiomas Fire coordinator and director of science at the Institute of Amazonian Environmental Investigation.
Together with November's numbers, the area burned in the first 11 months of 2022 totaled about 40 million acres, or just under the size of Uruguay, according to MapBiomas, a 13 percent increase over the same period in 2021.
Nearly half of that land is within the Amazon, the group said.