In the continuing saga of “2017 is the year of the apocalypse,” Brazil saw more forest fires in the month of September than any single month on record, and officials are warning that if precautions are not taken, things could only get worse. These fires are being caused by human activity, specifically reduction of oversight/surveillance combined with an expansion of agriculture. Despite being illegal, burning is often used to clear land for crops, hunting or pastures. Since the first of the year, there have been 196,000 forest fires, with the record being 270,000 in 2004. The total from 2017 is a 29% increase from 2016, and deforestation in Brazil has been rising steadily since 2012.
The government of Brazil has contributed to the lack of oversight by making serious cuts to the countries environmental budget. This slash in funding means there is simply not enough money to fund adequate surveillance in an area that is only becoming more commercialized. The most affected areas lie in the Amazon which has been targeted by miners and ranchers in the past year. A decree that allowed for mining in an Amazon reserve was recently revoked due to harsh backlash.