Fires at the world’s tropical largest wetlands of Pantanal have nearly tripled in 2020. Pantanal is spread over Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay and has seen a 201 per cent increase in forest fires in 2020 as compared to last year, as per Brazil's national space agency Inpe. The wetland is home to thousands of species of flora and fauna, including jaguars, anteaters and migratory birds.
According to reports, the wetlands span over 140,000-160,000 sq km area and are one of the most biodiverse areas in the world. Recent satellite maps that have been published by the Brazilian Space Agency clearly show the fires burning in the wetlands, with some being as large as 30m long by 1m wide.
As per reports, Inpe has detected over 3,000 fires in the wetlands which is the highest number of fires since records started being maintained in 1998. Members of Pantanal Observatory, an environmental network has claimed that a large number of forest fires, apart from causing economic damage and a loss of biodiversity, also lead to a series of health issues such as respiratory problems, eye irritation and allergies.
According to reports, the two main reasons behind the forest fires have been ‘criminal activity’ and ‘climactic factors’. While climate change plays its part in the fires, many of the fires have reportedly been started deliberately in order to clear the land rapidly so that it may be put to other use such as agriculture od cattle ranching.
Brazilian President Bolsonaro and his right-wing administration has been repeatedly criticized for not doing enough to protect the Amazon forest, but Bolsonaro has responded by claiming that the criticisms are false and a ploy by foreign powers to malign him.
Foreign investors have urged Brazillian President Jair Bolsonaro to check the rate of deforestation as well as get the rising number of forest fires in the Amazon rainforest under control. In the coming months, Brazil hopes to rely on foreign investments from Europe, Asia and South America to help boost the country's economy which is in turmoil owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unlike the warnings from heads of states, threats from foreign investors really hit home with Brazilian authorities since the country is relying on foreign investments in order to create jobs and tackle inflation.
(Image Credit Pixabay)