Sad Record

Wildfires in the Pantanal region skyrocket to worst level ever recorded

This year alone, the number of fires tripled in relation to 2019; the ecosystem extends from Bolivia to Paraguay

Translated by: Ítalo Piva

Brasil de Fato | São Paulo |
Though being one of the smallest ecosystems on Brazilian territory, the Pantanal region is one of the richest in bio-diversity - Screen capture/Brasil de Fato

The number of wildfires registered in the Pantanal region of South America has skyrocketed, increasing 189% between January 1 and last Tuesday, July 21, when compared to the same period last year.

In Brazil, the area is located in the states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, in the country’s Midwest and over 137 thousand square kilometers of Brazil’s territory. The ecosystem also extends to northern Paraguay and eastern Bolivia.

Around 3,200 fires have been registered so far. This is the highest number ever recorded by the National Institute of Space Research (Inpe) since 1998, when the monitoring began.

The municipality of Corumbá, located on the border between the state of Mato Grosso do Sul and neighboring Bolivia, is the town most affected, holding the record for wildfires in the region.

Up till last Sunday, Corumbá had already accounted for 2,218 fires, 1,757 more than registered in Poconé, in Mato Grosso state, which is the second most affected city according to Inpe.

In just two days, on Monday July 20 and Tuesday July 21, Inpe registered 146 focal points, impacting 7 thousand hectares of land.

The local fire department has said that some of the fires are criminal, illegal forest clearings, while others are a result of the climate in the region.

Faced with this scenario, the Pantanal observatory, which is comprised of 37 institutions belonging to the three countries in the region (Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay), is elaborating a campaign seeking to prevent wildfires in the area.

“We will help in two ways: raising awareness in the population about the dangers of these practices, and by spurring the creation of community fire brigades in Pantanal, by mapping out who can help and providing the firefighting equipment,” says Paula Isla, conservation analyst at WWF Brasil, a member of the Pantanal Observatory.

Edited by: Rodrigo Durão Coelho