The number of forest fires in the Brazilian Amazon so far this year has surpassed that recorded for all of 2021, according to official figures released Monday that triggered new alarm for the world's biggest rainforest.
Satellite monitoring has detected 75,592 fires from January 1 to September 18 this year, already higher than the 75,090 detected last year, according to the Brazilian space agency, INPE.
The latest grim news from the rainforest will likely add to pressure on President Jair Bolsonaro, who is fighting to win reelection next month and faces international criticism over a surge in destruction in the Amazon on his watch.
Experts blame Bolsonaro for easing environmental protections which had protected the Amazon and allowed loggers and ranchers to illegally clear more land since he took office in 2019.
Bolsonaro's office and the Environment Ministry did not immediately respond to the new report.
Widespread forest fires are an indication that Brazil is not curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Nearly half of the country’s carbon pollution comes from land conversion or deforestation. The Amazon rainforest is an important carbon absorber for the planet, but burning timber releases that carbon into the atmosphere.
Since the far-right agribusiness ally took office in January 2019, average annual deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has increased by 75% compared to the previous decade.
Greenpeace Brazil spokesman Andre Freitas called the latest figures a "tragedy foretold."
"After four years of a clear and objective anti-environmental policy by the federal government, we are seeing that as this government's term — one of the darkest periods ever for the Brazilian environment — comes to an end, land-grabbers and other illegal actors see it as the perfect opportunity to advance on the forest," he said in a statement.