From: Associated Press
Published October 19, 2004 12:00 AM

Number of Human-made Fires in Amazon Rain Forest Grows

SAÕ PAULO, Brazil — The number of human-made fires is increasing in the Amazon rain forest on Indian reservations, in farming regions, and in so-called environmental protections areas, the federal environmental protection agency, Ibama, said recently.

Citing figures compiled by Brazil's National Space Sciences Institute (INPE), the agency said that from the start of the year through Oct. 10, a total of 162,289 fires was registered in these three areas — 13 percent more than the number registered during the same period one year earlier.

The number of square kilometers (square miles) of forest land destroyed by these fires was not immediately available, Ibama's press office said.

The number of fires has increased due to the steady encroachment of cattle ranches and farms in the Amazon region and to the growing use of fire as a means to clear the land and prepare it for new agricultural endeavors, INPE researcher Alberto Setzer told Agencia Brasil, the government's official news agency.

He said poorly controlled camp fires lit by hunters and fishers in environmental protection areas are responsible for the fires destroying those regions.

Earlier this year, INPE pegged deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon Basin in 2002 and 2003 at an annual rate of about 25,000 square kilometers (9,750 square miles), the same rate as in 2000 and 2001. INPE follows deforestation by evaluating satellite photographs of the region.

The Amazon rainforest comprises an area of more than (1.6 million square miles), of which about three-fourths is located in Brazil.

Source: Associated Press

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