A staggering 83 per cent increase has been recorded in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil till now in 2019 over a similar period last year, Reuters has reported.
The data has been accumulated by the Brazil's space agency INPE, which has spotted 9,507 new wildfires in the country since Thurday (15 August). The fires have been recorded in the Amazon basin, which house the world’s largest rainforests.
The spike coincides with the new Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro taking over the government who took over the office on 1 January, 2019. Bolsonaro has rejected INPE’s claims saying that the fires were seasonal.
“I used to be called Captain Chainsaw. Now I am Nero, setting the Amazon aflame. But it is the season of the queimada,” he told reporters. Queimada refers to the time of the year when farmers use fire to clear the land.
The INPE however, maintains that the high number of fires cannot be attributed to the dry season alone, and that the fires were the work of humans.
“The dry season creates the favorable conditions for the use and spread of fire, but starting a fire is the work of humans, either deliberately or by accident,” an agency researcher said.
With the Amazon rainforests playing a crucial role in maintaining the planet’s environment, Bolsonaro’s environmental policy has been been heavily criticised for the increase. Hehad earlier fired the INPE’s director after the agency showed a spike in deforestation under the new president, saying that the numbers were inaccurate.