The last few months have put a crucial spotlight on the fires devastating the Amazon and other species-rich habitats in Latin America. We’re outraged that such vital landscapes are being burnt - impacting the people and wildlife that live there. But we’ve also been inspired by your determination to help us fight back.
What’s the latest on the fires?
The latest data shows just how devastating the fires have been. Over 30,000 fire outbreaks were detected in the Amazon this August alone - an increase of 196% compared to August 2018. This huge spike in fires is a direct consequence of accelerated deforestation – fuelled by a combination of the Brazilian President’s rhetoric towards the Amazon, and cuts by the Brazilian government to controls of illegal deforestation and fires. This has meant those wishing to stake a claim to land or illegally clear rainforest feel empowered to do so, without feeling at risk of prosecution.
Thanks in part to the huge public outcry, information from the ground is pointing to a reduction in the number of fires in the Amazon at the beginning of September.
But sadly, this doesn’t tell the full story. Although the number of fires in the Brazilian Amazon looks like it has decreased compared to the same period last year, deforestation alerts have actually increased. This means that these areas will probably be burnt later this year, or even next dry season. Deforestation comes first, and fires follow.
It’s also clear that the underlying issue isn’t confined to the Amazon. While the number of fires in the Amazon might have slowed, fires in other vital landscapes like the Pantanal and the Cerrado have continued to rise. In the Santa Cruz region in Bolivia, 3.5 million hectares have been impacted, with over 4,000 families - and countless species - affected.
It’s clear that the fires are part of a long-term trend. We need your continued support to help break the system that’s driving this, and to provide long term support on the ground.
This is not yesterday’s news. It’s an ongoing crisis.
Where is WWF’s money going?
Thanks to your donations we’re working across Brazil and Bolivia, providing direct relief to local communities affected by fires, supporting local efforts to fight the fires, and monitoring and denouncing illegal activities that lead to deforestation and forest fires.
One place your money is going is supporting local groups fighting the fires on the ground.
The Fire Brigade of Alter do Chão was set up by volunteers in 2017 in response to increasing fires near their homes. The group tackle forest fires and organise training for community members.
The brigade – still run entirely by volunteers – have worked tirelessly to combat fires on the ground but badly need funds for new equipment and training for their members.
With the money donated by WWF supporters, the brigade will be able to buy personal protective equipment - such as filter masks, goggles, balaclavas, helmets and boots - as well as locating, rescue and fire-fighting equipment such as GPS devices, compasses, backpack water pumps, drones, blowers, hoses and stretchers.
What happens now?
Thanks to your support, the initial response helped thrust the Amazon fires into the spotlight – impacting the global agenda at G7 and resulting in UK Government funding to assist.
But it’s clear that this is a long-term problem, caused by deforestation and easily exacerbated by a warming climate. We need to break the system that’s driving this, both in the Amazon and in other valuable landscapes.
One of the key drivers of deforestation globally – and the resulting fires – is agriculture. This means the food we are sold is part of the problem. We need your support to keep deforestation in the spotlight and continue to call for urgent action from world leaders to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains.
Together, we can campaign to fix our food system, as well as continuing to support those on the front line fighting the fires and protecting people and wildlife.
So whether it’s spreading the word, donating, or signing our petition – inaction is not an option.