The Amazon is the largest tropical forest in the world and plays an important role in regulating the global climate. However, deforestation contributes to the alteration of rainfall cycles, causing the intensification of the dry season, which increases the extent of native vegetation affected by forest fires. The continuous growth of fires in Boca do Acre (AM) went from 66%, in 2012, the year of approval of the new Forest Code, to 88% in 2019. The information is from research held by scientists from the National Center for Monitoring and Alerts of Natural Disasters (CEMADEN), in partnership with other national and international institutions, and published on Tuesday (20) in the journal "Fire".
The research analyzed satellite data of burned areas between the years 2003 and 2019, in a new deforestation frontier, in the Southwest of Amazonas. After cross-referencing the data, the scientists considered information about climate, land cover, rural properties and protected areas. "The goal of the study was to provide a comprehensive assessment of the spatial extent and patterns of burned areas, analyzing what, where, and how much has changed, to be able to understand the fire process in the study region," explains researcher Liana Anderson, one of the study's authors. In the period studied, the annual area affected by fire varied from 33 km² and peaked at 681 km² in 2019.
The deforestation trend in the region also increased from 15% in 2012 to 91.60% in 2019
The study also sought to understand the process of wildfires and the main factors that influence them. "We observed the importance of protection areas, such as conservation units and indigenous lands, because these serve as barriers for the fire not to enter the most preserved regions of the Amazon," points out research assistant Débora Dutra, who led the study. On the other hand, the areas of pasture and agriculture near highways, such as BR-317, and the routes used to transport wood from deforestation cause changes in these barriers, leaving the forest more vulnerable to forest fires.
"Deforestation has a relationship with fire, because the opening of new areas increasingly exposes the forest," points out Liana Anderson. According to the study, the deforestation trend in the region increased from 15% in 2012 to 91.60% in 2019. It was also observed the advance in deforestation and fire in areas of public forests not yet designated, indicating the urgent need for public policies to ensure the conservation of these areas.
According to the researchers, the prospect for the coming years is a significant increase in fire outbreaks in the region due to the increase in deforestation and the process of land grabbing, observed in the study from the registration of rural properties in areas of public forests in which deforestation processes and forest fires have occurred. "If we don't have public policies and control actions against illegal activities, such as unauthorized logging and deforestation, we can expect this area to become critical both for the increase in conflicts and the loss of ecosystem services," emphasizes Anderson.