Throughout 2022, Brazil reported more than 200 thousand wildfire outbreaks, by far the highest figure in South America. Argentina registered the second largest number of wildfires in the region that year, at over 44 thousand. On the other hand, 113 wildfires were detected in French Guiana during the period, the lowest number among South American countries and territories.
The lungs of the world
Spanning nine different countries, the Amazon rainforest makes up approximately 40 percent of South America. Predominantly encompassed by Brazil, the government has made some efforts towards protecting what is left of the world's most abundant tropical rainforest. Over five million square kilometers of land area lie under a special regime designated as the Legal Amazon in Brazil. Nevertheless, wildfires in the region remain a cause for concern. In 2022, more than 145 thousand outbreaks were registered in the Legal Amazon, accounting for over half of the country's occurrences that year.
Brazil's blind ambition
At the heart of the issue of wildfires is deforestation as a technique to expand land for farming and pastures. Along with the incremental rise in wildfires, the Amazon's deforestation rate has seen a continual increase for most of the decade. As Brazil climbs global markets to become the leading producer of soybean and beef, the country's agricultural ambitions have led to the lightening of environmental restrictions and the re-allocation of land for farming purposes. In turn, the area planted with crops in the Legal Amazon has nearly tripled since 2000.
Number of wildfires in South America in 2022, by country or territory
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INPE. (March 8, 2023). Number of wildfires in South America in 2022, by country or territory [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved September 24, 2023, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1043895/number-wildfires-south-america-country/
INPE. "Number of wildfires in South America in 2022, by country or territory." Chart. March 8, 2023. Statista. Accessed September 24, 2023. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1043895/number-wildfires-south-america-country/
INPE. (2023). Number of wildfires in South America in 2022, by country or territory. Statista. Statista Inc.. Accessed: September 24, 2023. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1043895/number-wildfires-south-america-country/
INPE. "Number of Wildfires in South America in 2022, by Country or Territory." Statista, Statista Inc., 8 Mar 2023, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1043895/number-wildfires-south-america-country/
INPE, Number of wildfires in South America in 2022, by country or territory Statista, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1043895/number-wildfires-south-america-country/ (last visited September 24, 2023)
Number of wildfires in South America in 2022, by country or territory [Graph], INPE, March 8, 2023. [Online]. Available: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1043895/number-wildfires-south-america-country/