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By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – A significant increase was registered in Brazil of the number of fires in its territory during 2015, with the greatest increase registered in the Amazon region, according to Brazil’s Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais – INPE (National Space Research Institute).

Brazil's government increased monitoring of deforestation of Amazon region, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Brazil’s government increased monitoring of deforestation of Amazon region, photo by Herbert Rondon/IBAMA.

According to INPE more than 235,000 heat spots were detected by Brazilian satellites last year, a strong increase in comparison to the 184,000 detected in 2014. The Brazilian institute says that this is the second worst year of fires since 1999.

“It was a drier year,” INPE researcher Alberto Setzer said in an interview to Globo’s IG News website. “A great part of the country faced prolonged drought. A few weeks ago there was still smoke in Manaus (capital of Amazonas state) as well as several cities in Para state due to fires.”

Almost all of the fires were started by man. According to Setzer the majority of fires recorded last year was started for the sole purpose of deforestation, to clear land, and are considered environmental crimes.

The researcher says that not enough is being done, especially in the Amazon region to curb this sort of action. “There is a failure in the monitoring (of the fires) since the detection of these heat spots by satellite are almost in real time and the information is readily available.”

The INPE study shows that the Northern state of Para, in the heart of the Amazon region, was the state which registered the most heat spots in 2015: 44,794. For Setzer the tendency is that this year the number of fires will subside. “When there are very intense fires, which end with the vegetation (we see) the following year there is not much to burn,” stated the researcher.

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