The Pantanal, the world's largest wetland in central and western Brazil, has burned 700,000 hectares of vegetation in the past few months, second only to the extent of last year's fires, according to domestic media reports. It is deeply worrying that in late August this year, a new round of fires broke out in the Pantanal wetlands. The region has a dry season from July to September and is also a season of frequent wildfires. Today, the Pantanal wetlands in west-central Brazil are facing severe fires, and the local military, fire brigades and volunteers are actively involved in fighting them. However, due to the complex terrain and the lack of roads to the fire point, many fire sources are difficult to extinguish, and the task of extinguishing the fire is extremely arduous.
More worryingly, years of continuous fires will damage the natural resilience of the Pantanal wetlands and cause irreversible damage to the local ecological environment. Currently, the local fire department is conducting an investigation into the source of the fire to determine whether there is a possibility of arson. On September 14 last year, the Pantanal wetlands experienced the worst drought in nearly 50 years, with fires affecting more than 10 percent of the total wetland area, affecting 79 cities in the state, causing a sharp drop in air quality and a significant increase in respiratory diseases. The local government believes that man-made arson is also an important cause of the severity of the fire. According to Brazil's National Institute for Space Research, there were 5,935 fires in the Pantanal in August, about 3.5 times the same period last year and the highest since 2005. The situation has not improved since September, with 4,611 sources of fire in less than half a month. In 2020, the Pantanal wetlands fire affected 18,646 square kilometers of land.
Recently, the Pantanal Institute for Humanities in Brazil released new research showing that fires in the Pantanal wetlands will have multiple impacts on local biomes, including food shortages, imbalanced ecological balance, and the risk of animal extinction. Leticia Lacher, Ph.D. in conservation, pointed out that the fires in the Pantanal wetlands are affecting local flora and fauna in a number of ways, and these organisms will need more time to adapt to the burned environment. In addition, animals' predation habits, behavior patterns and migration patterns will also be affected. Since the Pantanal wetlands are important habitats for large populations of migratory birds, the migration patterns of these migratory birds will also change when the fires change the environment, as they need to find food elsewhere.
In addition, according to the latest research in the authoritative scientific journal Nature, the world's largest tropical rainforest, the Amazon rainforest, has released more carbon dioxide than absorbed every year, transforming from a "forest carbon sink" to a "forest carbon source". Affected by deforestation and the intensification of the dry season, the Amazon rainforest emits as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year as Japan's total annual emissions, making it the world's fifth-largest carbon emitter. The frequency of forest fires coincides with deforestation areas, leading to the deterioration of ecosystems and the release of more greenhouse gases. In 2019, more than 10,000 square kilometers of deforestation in Brazil increased by 48% over the average of the past decade. In April, Brazil again recorded a record rate of deforestation, with at least 580 square kilometres of rainforest disappearing that month. This suggests that forest ecosystems, once considered "stabilizers" of the global carbon cycle and climate system, are now in danger of collapsing under constant destruction and erosion. The climate crisis has quietly arrived, in order to curb the rapid rise of global carbon emissions, reducing emissions at source is the most direct and effective way, not only "multiple trees", but also practical actions.