US Beef Market is Why the Pantanal is Burning

Context: Devastating wildfires that burned out of control in late 2019 and early 2020 in Brazil’s Pantanal wetland are back, the Bloomberg report said.

Analysis

  • The report blamed the market abroad (beef import by countries like U.S.) that drives more clearance of natural ecosystems like the Pantanal.
  • The report also blamed commercial farmers for the fires since they lit them to clear vegetation during the annual dry season to graze cattle and grow crops for export.
  • Things have been complicated as this year as South America has been hit by a bad drought.
  • The unique way in which fires burn in the Pantanal also poses a challenge.
  • While in other regions of Brazil – including the Amazon – blazes engulf vegetation and trees, fires in the Pantanal tend to burn just below the surface of the earth, fueled by tightly-packed and highly-combustible decomposed vegetation called peat.
  • These low-intensity fires can burn for longer and are often particularly difficult to extinguish.
  • Conservationists and others have expressed concern for the wildlife of the Pantanal, the world’s largest wetland area located in southwestern Brazil and parts of Bolivia and Paraguay.

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