The Amazon: A Fortress for Life on Earth Is Burning

Under threat: 34 million people; more than 1,500 bird species; 550 reptiles; 500 mammals; and a forest that stores up to 200 gigatonnes(GT) of carbon

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Photo credit: ©Flavio Forner
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Photo credit: Michael Goulding/WCS

“Intact forests are extremely important to life on earth: They absorb a quarter of total carbon emissions annually in an enormous natural sink, and store far more than degraded forests. The forests of the Amazon sequester a quarter of this sink.”

It is the world’s largest freshwater system, where over 2.500 species of fish thrive. It is ironic to think that one of the wettest places on the globe, in fact the largest freshwater system in the world, where in certain areas its forests are capable of creating their own rainy season with the water vapor that transpires from their leaves, is now threatened by fire.

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Photo credit: Néstor Roncancio/WCS

“It is clear from official government reports and studies by environmental organizations, that in recent years burns have increased due to pressures to convert land for extensive agriculture, livestock or simply land grabbing.”

In the Amazon, fires are seasonal events, which occur most frequently during the dry season months (July to November). Almost all fires are started by people, who use fire to open up small areas for traditional agriculture.

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Photo credit: ©Walter Wust.

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WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature.

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