Forest Fires

Amazon Fires

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Amazon Forest

Mains level : Forest fires and their global impact


  • Over the last several days, the ‘lungs of the Earth’ Amazon rainforest has been burning at a rate that has alarmed environmentalists and governments worldwide.
  • The fires are so large that they are visible from space.

Amazon Fires

  • Started in the Amazonian rainforests, the fires have impacted populated areas in the north, such as the states of Rondônia and Acre, blocking sunlight and enveloping the region in smoke.
  • The smoke has wafted thousands of miles to the Atlantic coast and São Paulo, according to the World Meteorological Organization.
  • Brazil has reported that forest fires in the region have doubled since 2013, and increased by 84% compared to the same period last year.

How did the fire start?

  • Mostly caused by farmers clearing land, the fires have thrown the spotlight on Brazilian policies and anti-environment stance.
  • The farmers had organised a “fire day” along a highway that runs through the heart of the rainforest.
  • Local farmers set ablaze to sections of the rainforest a few days ago to get the government’s attention.
  • And dry weather has further fuelled the fire.
  • The dry season creates the favourable conditions for the use and spread of fire, but starting a fire is the work of humans, either deliberately or by accident.

A cause for concern

  • The Amazon rainforest is a repository of rich biodiversity and produces approximately 20 per cent of oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • It is also home to indigenous communities whose lives and homelands are under threat due to encroachment.
  • The Amazon basin matches the emissions released by nations in the basin. The burning of forests, therefore, implies additional carbon emissions.
  • Deforestation could lead to the Amazon’s transformation from the world’s largest rainforest to a savanna, which would reverse the region’s ecology.

Importance of Amazons

  • A National Geographic report said the Amazon rainforest influences the water cycle not only on a regional scale, but also on a global scale.
  • The rain produced by the Amazon travels through the region and even reaches the Andes mountain range.
  • Moisture from the Atlantic falls on the rainforest, and eventually evaporates back into the atmosphere.
  • The Amazon rainforest has the ability to produce at least half of the rain it receives. This cycle is a delicate balance.

Flawed environmental policies

  • Since the 1960s, the Amazon has witnessed large-scale deforestation because of cattle-ranching, logging, power projects, mining and farming.
  • Under Brazil’s Forest Code of 1965, farmers could purchase Amazon land but could farm only 20% of it.
  • Agribusiness products in 2016 represented 46% of Brazil’s exports.

Back2basics

Amazon Rainforests

  • The Amazon rainforest is a moist broadleaf tropical rainforest in the Amazon biome that covers most of the Amazon basin of South America.
  • This region includes territory belonging to nine nations.
  • The majority of the forest is contained within Brazil, with 60% of the rainforest, followed by Peru with 13%, Colombia with 10%, and with minor amounts in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.
  • The Amazon represents over half of the planet’s remaining rainforests and comprises the largest and most biodiverse tract of tropical rainforest in the world.
Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments