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Are we understanding correctly the Amazon fires? These maps provide perspective.

For weeks, we’ve seen headlines saying the Amazon rainforest is burning. But when we examine satellite imagery showing both the fires this year and those that have burned in the previous four years, we see that the bulk of the fires represents annual burning associated with agriculture. The underlying problem, of course, is deforestation.

Deforestation proceeds silently and relentlessly, usually following rivers and road access, as seen in the linearity of the fires.  By the time the vegetation burns, the original forest is long gone.

Furious locals say president is culpable over unprecedented destruction of wildlife

“It was running for its life,” said the firefighter captain, peering out from under his yellow hard hat. “It was in a state of sheer terror.”

Based on satellite images from Bolivia’s early warning fire detection agency, environmental groups estimate the destruction has surpassed 2m hectares. About 16% of the damage is within protected areas and fires recently spread into Kaa-Iya, Bolivia’s largest national park in the Gran Chaco.

Justin Trudeau, Emmanuel Macron agree: Amazon wildfires are an ‘international crisis’

What Satellite Imagery
Tells Us About the
Amazon Rain Forest Fires


By K.K. Rebecca LaiDenise Lu and Blacki MigliozziAug. 24, 2019

Scientists studying satellite image data from the fires in the Amazon rain forest said that most of the fires are burning on agricultural land where the forest had already been cleared.

Existing forest

Deforestation through 2018

Fires in August

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"To conserve biodiversity in the tropical Andes of Ecuador"