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Montevideo, July 24th 2024 - 15:43 UTC



State of emergency declared in Mato Grosso do Sul due to Pantanal fire

Tuesday, June 25th 2024 - 08:23 UTC
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Mato Grosso do Sul Governor Eduardo Riedel declared an emergency situation in the state's municipalities affected by forest fires Mato Grosso do Sul Governor Eduardo Riedel declared an emergency situation in the state's municipalities affected by forest fires

Brazilian authorities have declared a state of emergency for six months in Mato Grosso do Sul in a move to facilitate help against the fire in the Pantanal, a natural region encompassing the world's largest tropical wetland area, and the world's largest flooded grasslands, where flames reached 627,000 hectares this year, according to the Laboratory of Environmental Satellite Applications (Lasa) of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Experts believe the main cause for this phenomenon was the extreme drought coupled with human action, especially agricultural expansion.

“For faster and more effective action, Governor Eduardo Riedel declared an emergency situation in the state's municipalities affected by forest fires, whether in parks, areas of national, state, or municipal protection and preservation, as well as in cases of uncontrolled spread of fire, or any other type of vegetation that could cause a drop in air quality,” the official statement said from the Mato Grosso do Sul Governorship read.

“The impacts of the fires for agriculture in the Pantanal, with important losses, both economic and environmental, in relation to vegetation, soil, fauna, material goods and the safety of human life,” it went on.

”The Government of Mato Grosso do Sul has several fronts to fight forest fires in the State, mainly in the Pantanal region. There, teams carry out coordinated and integrated work in the air (airplanes and helicopters) and on the ground, with firefighters, brigadistas, and the collaboration of the Pantanal inhabitants, to reach the fire outbreaks and carry out the fight,” it was also explained.

From Jan. 1 to June 23, Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE) recorded 3,262 fire outbreaks in the Pantanal, 33% more than in the same period of 2020. Videos circulating on social networks over the weekend showed a long wall of fire lighting up the night in the jungle, as a background image of the festivities of St. John's Day in the city of Corumba, in Mato Grosso do Sul.

This year, Mato Grosso do Sul accounted for 78% (480,775 hectares) of the Pantanal affected by the fires. The natural formation also encompasses the State of Mato Grosso and portions of Bolivia and Paraguay. More than 9,000 fire outbreaks have been recorded so far in 2024, which represents seven times more than the same period of the previous year. In 2024 alone, an area equivalent to three times the city of São Paulo burned in the Pantanal. The authorities “will have to use the maximum resources from now on to avoid a tragedy like the one we saw,” said Gustavo Figueiroa from the NGO SOS Pantanal, in a video posted on Instagram.

The Brasil de Fato platform reported that given the extraordinary drought scenario, the National Water and Basic Sanitation Agency (ANA) declared on May 14, 2024, a critical situation of quantitative scarcity of water resources in Paraguay's hydrographic region, valid until October 31, 2024, which may be extended if the scarcity persists. The study by the MapBiomas research network showed that the Pantanal is the biome most affected by fires in the last 39 years: “It was nine million hectares, representing 59.2% of the territory covering the states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul.”

Categories: Environment, Brazil.

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