Day of the Amazon (September 5)

Tens of thousands of forest fires – again (Press Release)

The fire catastrophes in the Amazon region continue. On the occasion of the Day of the Amazon (September 5), the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) would like to draw attention to the ongoing forest fires. "The Sunday speeches and moratoriums have had no effect at all," stated Juliana Miyazaki, STP expert on indigenous peoples. "Compared to the previous year, the situation has become even worse – especially in indigenous territories.

According to the Brazilian space agency INPE, deforestation in the Amazon region has increased by 85 percent compared to the previous year. A total of 9,166 square kilometers of Amazon forest were destroyed – which was the largest area of forest destroyed in the region in five years. According to the Instituto Socio Ambiental, the increase was even more pronounced in indigenous territories. For the period of March and July 2020 alone, the increase in deforestation is estimated at 827 percent in Trincheira-Bacajá, 420 percent in Kayapó, and at 238 percent in Munduruku territory.

"Officially, slash-and-burn deforestation is prohibited – but it continues unabated. The environmental authorities were disempowered, the police authorities are hardly monitoring the situation, and violations have no consequences," Miyazaki stated. Thus, INPE registered more than 7,600 fires in the Brazilian state of Amazonas in August alone. With almost 1,000 more fires than last year, this year saw the highest number since 1998. The authorities registered more than 29,300 fires in the entire Amazon region in August – the second highest figure in a decade and only slightly less than the figure of the previous year (30,900).

"The forest fires are mostly caused by illegal clearings. After felling some of the trees and letting them dry out, fires are started in order to free up new areas for economic activities such as agribusiness," Miyazaki criticized. "As this year is particularly dry, record values in deforestation were already reached in June." More than 13,000 square kilometers of the Brazilian Amazon region burned in the first seven months of 2020. "Last week, Brazil's environment minister announced plans to stop all measures to combat deforestation. After a public outcry, however, he had to row back," Miyazaki reported.

Despite its importance for the planet – as a home for indigenous and other traditional communities, and due to the infinite variety of animal and plant species – the forest in the Amazon basin is permanently threatened by deforestation, mining, infrastructure projects, and deforestation for pasture or arable land.

The Amazon Day was introduced in 2007 to raise awareness for the importance of the world's largest tropical forest. There are several international activities to protect this forest. The Amazon province, which is now a Brazilian state, was founded by Prince Pedro II on September 5, 1850.