The Amazon rainforest has recorded its worst month for fires in August since 2010, authorities said Thursday.
There was an 18% increase since last August in a region considered an important natural buffer against climate change, according to the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) that published the data.
INPE satellites recorded 33,116 fires during the dry season in August -- a time typically worse for deforestation and fires.
The number has been driven by increased deforestation and forest degradation in the last four years, according to Mariana Napolitano, the head of Science at the World Wide Fund for Nature Brazil (WWF Brazil).
"The Amazon is a humid tropical forest and, contrary to what happens in other biomes, fire is not part of its natural cycle. Therefore, fires do not arise naturally in the biome and their occurrence is always associated with human actions - especially deforestation and forest degradation," she said in a statement.
From January to the end of August, more than 46,000 fire spots have been recorded, according to WWF Brazil. The fires surpassed blazes in August 2019 that drew criticism from global leaders.
Deforestation and fires are associated with the fires, according to INPE.
Director of Social and Environmental Justice at WWF-Brazil, Raul Valle, blamed the administration of Jair Bolsonaro for the fires, describing the Brazilian president as "promoting an anti-environmental policy."
Valle criticized government policies for contributing to the escalation of fires, deforestation and forest degradation in the Amazon in recent years.
"Throughout his administration, Bolsonaro repeated - in Brazil and abroad - that there are no fires in the Amazon at all, denying indisputable data. He weakened the mechanisms of command and control in the region and spread an atmosphere of allowance for crimes of destruction, supporting deforesters and illegal gold miners,” he said.
The degradation occurring in the Amazon was also raised during the presidential debate between the two leading candidates; left-wing and former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and the far-right Bolsonaro.
Lula accused Bolsonaro of destroying Brazil, underscoring that deforestation during his government was significantly lower.
Last month, Bolsonaro lashed out at critics regarding the Amazon, claiming they should have preserved forests in their own countries as "the Amazon belongs to Brazilians, and always will."
Source: Anadolu Agency