Why Is the Amazon on Fire?

Deforestation has claimed 74,663 square miles of Brazil’s Amazon basin since 2001.

The map below shows Brazil's rate of deforestation within the Amazon Basin (green) over a 15-year period.

Data: Global Forest Watch; Bloomberg/Getty Images

After peaking in 2004, deforestation rates declined dramatically due to stricter enforcement of environmental laws.

Leonardo Carrato/Bloomberg via Getty Images

But since the election last year of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, deforestation in the Amazon has spiked. Bolsonaro campaigned on a promise to roll back environmental protections and open the Amazon rainforest to development and agribusiness.

Evaristo Sa/AFP/Getty Images

Bolsonaro suggested, without providing evidence, that environmental groups were setting the fires to make him look bad.

Leonardo Carrato/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Federal officials are investigating reports that farmers organized a “day of fire” on Aug. 10 to show support for Bolsonaro's efforts to loosen environmental regulations.


Carlos Fabal/AFP/Getty Images

The Amazon fires have become a global issue, escalating tensions between Brazil and European countries who believe Bolsonaro has neglected commitments to protect biodiversity.


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