Right now, the Amazon is burning.
We’re all outraged and heartbroken by what’s happening in the Amazon right now. But we’ve been overwhelmed by the incredible response from all our supporters.
We’ve had thousands of questions through, asking why it’s happening, how you can help and what’s next.
Here are our answers to the most common.
Why are the fires happening?
The fires are a direct result of soaring deforestation rates to illegally claim land and to clear and prepare areas for cattle farming and agriculture. In this year alone, almost 73,000 fires have been recorded in Brazil, and this is 85% more fires than were seen in the whole of 2018. More than half of these fires were in the Amazon. There are also fires raging in Bolivia and in other parts of Latin America such as Paraguay.
While fires are not unusual at this time of the year, their sheer scale and intensity is exceptional. This is down to the weakening of Brazil’s environmental policies and law enforcement capacity, with many fires that have been started being illegal, and going largely unchecked by Brazilian government.
How much of the Amazon has been lost and what is the tipping point?
Shockingly, 20% of the Amazon is already cleared. Some scientists believe that if we lose just 5% more, we’ll see irreversible change, and the Amazon would become drier and savannah-like. This shift would result in vast amounts of carbon to be released, having catastrophic effects on our climate.
Put simply, if we are to fight the climate crisis, we must stop the destruction of global forests.
Can the Amazon regrow and recover?
We absolutely need to encourage forest restoration and we know that nature can bounce back when given a chance. We must stop the destruction of this rainforest now before it too late and protect what we have.
Can we put out the fires?
Across the Amazon, there will be many hundreds of people trying to tackle the fires, but the task is immense and there continues to be new fires started. To add to this, authorities lack the resources to tackle fires at this scale, partly because their funding has been reduced by central Government. The Brazillian government must act to reverse this and send a clear signal that illegal deforestation and fires will not be tolerated.
It is not within the capabilities of WWF as an organisation to physically put out the fires, but we are helping fight the fires in other ways; by supporting key local and indigenous communities’ needs for medical support, fire-fighter training and security; and working with local governments where possible on procedures for fighting fires and deforestation.
What about the fires happening in Bolivia and Paraguay? /other areas of the world?
We are alarmed by the news from many important natural places around the world that are currently experiencing fires. The fires are devastating huge natural areas in Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay in Latin America and in Indonesia and the DRC.Strong winds, drought and climate extremes in Bolivia, for example, mean the fires are spreading and making them hard to control.
Our teams are engaged in emergency response to fires in Latin America and Indonesia. We are targeting those places where WWF has a presence and work on the ground to be able to respond.
How can I help?
There are many ways you can help, from donating to our emergency appeal, spreading awareness of the fires and signing our petition demanding deforestation free food.
If I donate, where will my money go?
With the money raised, our Amazon teams along with local organisations will carry out urgent work on the ground including:
- Supporting key local and indigenous communities’ needs for medical support, fire-fighter training and security.
- Working with local governments where possible on procedures for fighting fires and deforestation.
- Wildlife monitoring, rescue and recovery care projects.
- Campaigning for action from the Government.
This is the first urgent response and we’ll keep reviewing where the money is most urgently needed in the Latin America region.
Should the UK stop trade deals with Brazil?
The UK government must take a strong stand to deliver urgent action, using all the tools at their disposal, including trade deals to work in partnership with countries - and empower countries to support a transition to a climate and nature friendly future.
One way of doing this would be by a commitment to ending the importation and use of products in our supply chains that cause deforestation, instead supporting sustainable use of forest products. We need your support to demand the UK Government commit to a deadline ending the importation of goods that have caused deforestation. Sign our petition today.
What will happen to the G7 funding and the emergency appeal if the funding has been rejected by Bolsonaro?
It has been reported that the Brazilian Government might turn down the current offer of £18m in aid from G7 leaders. It’s vital that our governments work together to ensure this money is delivered to those who need it.
For the thousands of you who have donated to our emergency appeal, you're helping us directly support the work of our teams in the Amazon and Latin America region who are helping fight the immediate emergency.
Is the £18m donated enough?
It’s good to see the fate of this vital forest on the global agenda, as well as new commitments of funding, especially from the UK. But it is essential that money flows quickly to the front line, to the communities tackling the fires and deforestation that drives them. We cannot protect the world from the worst impacts of climate change if the Amazon burns. But emergency funding to stop the fires now is just the first step.
Long-term, if we want to save the Amazon for future generations, we must tackle the root causes of its destruction, through better control of illegal activities, supporting those who work to protect it and ensuring that our food production does not drive deforestation. For us in the UK, that means we must end importing commodities that drive deforestation. To do that, the UK government must ensure all future trade deals are part of the solution, not the problem.
We need your support to demand the UK Government commit to a deadline ending the importation of goods that have caused deforestation. Sign our petition today
How will your new petition for deforestation free food help?
This is the reality of deforestation and it is frightening. And products that you are buying are part of the system that’s driving this. In just four days, over 100,000 people told the UK government to discuss the Amazon emergency at the G7, resulting in funding pledges to assist.
But the fight is not over. We need to break the system that is feeding this demand for deforestation.
We need your support to demand the UK Government commit to a deadline ending the importation of goods that have caused deforestation.The UK Government must work with other global governments to tackle the global deforestation emergency at the UN climate meetings in September, and at every upcoming global event. We want them to use all of the tools at their disposal, including trade deals, to support countries making a rapid transition to a climate and nature friendly future.