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Amazonia’s fire crises

Study shows emergency fire bans are insufficient and urges strategic action ahead of the Amazon’s next burning season
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Deforestation fire in the Amazon

In response to the escalating fire crises in the Amazon, a timely study has revealed alarming shortcomings in the emergency fire bans implemented by the Brazilian government.

Initially seen as a promising solution in 2019, these bans have consistently fallen short in subsequent years, revealing a pressing need for strategies that address the underlying causes of each type of fire.

‘Emergency fire bans are not a standalone solution for the fire crises; they can be effective when strategically implemented and rigorously enforced during critical periods to prevent ignitions, but to solve the crises, we need measures that address the motivations behind different types of fires and, most crucially, focus on stopping deforestation.’

Postdoctoral researcher at the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford and also at the Woodwell Climate Research Centre; lead author of the study

The Amazon and the climate

The Amazon plays an essential role in regulating global climate patterns, supporting biodiversity, and sustaining local and Indigenous communities.

The persistent inability to effectively manage these fires not only jeopardises the ecological integrity of the Amazon but also intensifies global climate change and negatively impacts human health and wellbeing.

‘When deforestation or pasture fires escape into surrounding forests, they can kill up to 50% of the trees, considerably contributing to both the climate and the biodiversity crises. It is imperative to halt these other fire types in order to avoid burning Amazonian forests.’

A co-author of the study

A proactive strategy for the Amazon

This study underscores the urgent need for strong political commitment ahead of the next burning season, anticipated to peak in July and August and likely worsened by recent El Niño conditions.

‘A drier and hotter climate favours the spread of fires, so it’s crucial to prevent ignitions when the environment is most fire-prone.’

Postdoctoral researcher at the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford and also at the Woodwell Climate Research Centre; lead author of the study

The study highlights the inadequacy of reactive measures and the critical need for a shift toward proactive, comprehensive strategies, which include targeted interventions, effective landscape management, engaged community involvement, robust public awareness campaigns and crucially, stopping deforestation.

‘Future directions should take into account the important role of social actors such as Indigenous and local communities, and establish effective multi stakeholder communication and interoperability.’

Co-author of the study

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