Amazon Wildfires in 2023 Increase by 10% Compared to 2022

A new study by researchers from the University of East Anglia and the University of South Alabama reveals that the number of wildfires in the Amazon forests during the first half of 2023 was 10% higher than in the previous year. This increase poses a significant threat to the progress made in reducing deforestation in the Amazon, which serves as a critical carbon sink and biodiversity-rich region.

Key Findings

  • The study reports a 10% rise in the number of wildfires in the Amazon during the first half of 2023 compared to 2022.
  • In June 2023, the region experienced the highest number of active fires since 2007.
  • Anthropogenic climate change has made the Amazon more susceptible to wildfires due to drought and prolonged periods of extreme heat.
  • Deforestation and agricultural expansion have damaged the integrity of the forests, reducing their resilience to drought.

Shift in Causes

  • Previously, widespread deforestation was the primary driver of increased wildfires. However, concerted efforts have led to a reduction in deforestation rates.
  • In 2023, only 19% of the fires were related to recent deforestation during the first half of the year, compared to 39% in 2022.
  • Other factors contributing to increased fires include hot and dry conditions from El Niño, the lag effect of sustained deforestation, poor implementation of environmental laws in Brazil, and early burning of pastures by landholders.

Impact on Indigenous Communities

  • Indigenous groups, historically using fire in agriculture, are now experiencing unprecedented megafires due to large-scale actors, climate change, and forest fragmentation.
  • Small traditional communities often bear the blame for fires, even though they are the most affected when invasive fires damage the forest, impacting their resources and way of life.

Call for International Efforts

  • The researchers emphasize the need for strong, equitable, and coordinated international efforts to address the growing threat of Amazon wildfires.
  • Addressing the complex factors driving wildfires, including climate change and deforestation, requires global cooperation to protect this vital ecosystem.



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