Handout picture released by Mato Grosso do Sul State Government showing a forest fire at the Pantanal ecoregion of Brazil, municipality of Corumba, Mato Grosso do Sul state, on October 30, 2019. (Mato Grosso do Sul State Government/AFP/Chico Ribeiro)
The number of forest fires in the Pantanal, the world's largest tropical wetlands, has nearly tripled in 2020 compared to the same period last year, according to satellite data released Thursday.
Brazil's national space agency, INPE, identified 3,506 fires from January 1 to July 22 in the Pantanal, a 192 percent increase from 2019 and the most for the period since records began in 1998.
The trend is all the more troubling given that 2019 already saw a six-fold increase in fires in the region across the full year.
The space agency's map of the Pantanal currently shows a rash of red dots representing fires.
The Pantanal, which stretches from Brazil into Paraguay and Bolivia, is home to an immense wealth of biodiversity.
It sits at the southern edge of the Amazon rainforest, which has also been hit hard by fires so far this year.
Last month was the worst June for forest fires in the Brazilian Amazon in 13 years, with 2,248 of them.
Environmentalists accuse Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right climate change skeptic, of attacking the country's vital natural resources with policies promoting agriculture and mining on protected lands.
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