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The fire does not give truce. After the fires that devastate the Amazon rainforest, another of Brazil's natural treasures, the Pantanal, burns. Paradoxically, it is the largest flooded plain in the world, but in the dry season, when water gives way to huge pastures, it is especially vulnerable.
"The thicket was very dry, we don't know how the fire started, but it blew from the north and immediately took a huge proportion. We had no material and the boys started to put it out as they could, with branches ... but the fire leaped above they, tongues of fire passed over the cables of light, "says Thayanni Ribeiro, one of the workers at the Guajuvira estate, a few kilometers from Bonito.
This wetland that Brazil shares with Bolivia and Paraguay is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, which earned it the UNESCO biosphere reserve title. It is also one of the main ecotourism destinations in Brazil, for the ease with which animals can be sighted, from alligators to jaguars.
However, only 4.6% of its area is protected and undergoes strong pressure from the fields and pastures for livestock. Many of the landowners in the area, owners of gigantic farms, combine tourist uses (horseback riding, walks through the lagoons, etc.) with the breeding of cattle.
Just in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, the area burned until last weekend was already 1.5 million hectares (twice the Community of Madrid). The local authorities decreed the state of emergency and the Civil Defense assured that the Pantanal was affected "in devastating dimensions".
The fire even reached the heart of the Chapada dos Guimarães national park, which has lost more than 6,000 hectares. Its natural attractions , such as the famous waterfall of the bride's veil, remain closed to the public for safety .
The specialists assure that the majority of fires originate in human action: "In this region there is still the tradition of using fire to clean land . Everything begins with a controlled action that then escapes control. There comes the action of the wind. There have been cases of fires in which the flames jump a 40-meter river and pass to the other side. A spark carried by the wind is enough to create a new focus, "said Felipe Dias, director of the SOS Pantanal Institute, to the Estado de Sao newspaper Paulo
Since 2014, the burning of stubble in the Pantanal is prohibited between August 1 and October 31, although it is allowed to burn remains of cane fields, straw and planted forests. With the emergency decree, the use of fire in any condition is prohibited.
Fires occur every year in the dry season, but this time they have multiplied abnormally. In the first ten days of September, the outbreaks of fire multiplied 334% compared to 2018, from 1,039 to 4,515, according to data from the National Institute for Space Research.
Fires continue in the Amazon
While the Pantanal burns, the fire also continues in the Amazon jungle. Last weekend he arrived at Alter do Chao, a paradisiacal enclave in the state of Pará known as the Caribbean of the Amazon, for the white sand and turquoise water of the river. The regional government asked the central government for help, which on Monday sent 150 soldiers. At the moment, since the end of August, more than 7,000 soldiers of the Armed Forces have been acting against fire throughout the Amazon, and so far they helped extinguish more than 400 sources of fire, according to information from the Ministry of Defense.
In parallel, the Government of Jair Bolsonaro, continues to seek collaboration in its closest allies. After neglecting the help offered by European countries and especially criticizing French President Emmanuel Macron, the Executive of the ultra-right-wing leader exhibited attunement to the administration of Donald Trump.
Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo announced last Friday in Washington with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the US will contribute 100 million dollars in the next 11 years to conserve the Amazon, and that this money will be provided by private companies.
"Our friends here in the US know that it is not true (that Brazil is not able to face the environmental challenge in the Amazon) and we need to be together in the effort to create a joint development, which is the only way to protect the jungle, "said the Brazilian minister. The promise to create a fund for the Amazon was first announced in March, when Bolsonaro met with Trump at the White House.
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