Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 26 November 2020

Global wildfires reach an ominous all-time high

Report from Worldwide Fund for Nature blames rampant deforestation for worrying record

In July alone, the Amazon experienced a 28 per cent increase in the number of fires over the same period last year. WWF
In July alone, the Amazon experienced a 28 per cent increase in the number of fires over the same period last year. WWF

The number of fire alerts across the globe has risen to an all-time high, a report into the effects of deforestation has found.

As of April there were 13 per cent more alerts than in the same time in 2019, with persistent hotter and drier weather the main cause.

Report co-authors, the Worldwide Fund for Nature and the Boston Consulting Group, say deforestation plays a threatening role.

Deforestation has been steadily rising in the Brazilian Amazon, with alerts from August 2019 to July 2020 a third higher than in the same period 12 months earlier.

The Global Forest Watch map tracks tree cover loss in 2019. The interactive map also shows tree cover loss in the Amazon since the start of the millennium, including the last three months.

The latest data shows fires in the Brazilian Amazon are 52 per cent higher than the 10-year average, and 24 per cent higher than those for the past three years.

Farmers try to put out an illegal fire which burned part of the Amazon rainforest in August. AFP
Farmers try to put out an illegal fire which burned part of the Amazon rainforest in August. AFP

July's figures show a 28 per cent increase in the number of fires over the same month in 2019, amid soaring levels of illegal deforestation.

The WWF is calling for immediate emergency measures to be introduced, such as banning deforestation in the Amazon for five years.

Human behaviour could lead to fire catastrophe

Humans are responsible for three quarters of all wildfires, the report states.

WWF global forests leader Fran Price warns of "billions of wildlife lost and people losing their homes and livelihoods, not to mention the impact on climate".

Ms Price said "proactivity and commitment" must be the cornerstones of a global response, which has to span "local, sub-national, national and regional levels".

And prevention is key.

"Good intentions on paper mean nothing if they’re not followed up with real and effective actions on the ground," she says.

If there were any doubt as to the extent of wildfires globally, this screenshot from the Fire Information for Resource Management System shows how many blazes have been raging in the past 24 hours:

Map showing global wildfires on Thursday. FIRMS
Map showing global wildfires on Thursday. FIRMS

The full report, Fires, Forests, and the Future: A Crisis Raging out of Control, can be read here.

And here you can read how the UK is battling a staggering annual increase in wildfires.

Updated: August 28, 2020 01:10 AM

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