Climate: Numerous forest fires in Brazil's Pantanal wetland

With the extreme drought and heat in Brazil, the number of forest fires in the Pantanal, one of the largest inland wetlands in the world, has also increased dramatically.

Climate: Numerous forest fires in Brazil's Pantanal wetland

With the extreme drought and heat in Brazil, the number of forest fires in the Pantanal, one of the largest inland wetlands in the world, has also increased dramatically. Just over 4,000 fire outbreaks have been recorded in November alone, according to the Brazilian space institute Inpe. The number of fires is now nine times higher than the November average of the last 25 years.

The wetland, which extends from Brazil to the neighboring countries of Bolivia and Paraguay, consists of a branched system of rivers and lakes and is a unique natural and tourist paradise. It is unusual for the region to have so many fires in November, as that month's rainfall typically floods the area.

But the rainy season is late this year due to the severe drought in the biome, according to the Environment Ministry. In addition, the drought is exacerbated by the El Niño weather phenomenon that occurs every few years and climate change. Other areas of Brazil, such as the Amazon, are currently experiencing the worst drought in over a century.

“Floods, drought and fires are part of the natural dynamics in the Pantanal,” said Roberto Maldonado from the environmental organization WWF. "But in recent years we have been experiencing increasingly extreme droughts and mammoth fires that are getting completely out of control and threatening to destroy the sensitive ecosystem."

The Pantanal is one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet and is home to rare species. Jaguars, tapirs and hyacinth macaws live there. Economically, cattle farming is the main activity in the area. Farmers traditionally burn forest areas to create new pastures. If these fires get out of control, huge wildfires can occur.

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