Spikes in fire outbreaks in the Amazon are often related to increased deforestation. The Amazonian municipality of Apui, at the border of the so-called "deforestation belt", has had four times as many fire outbreaks compared to the same time last year. While they have a small local fire brigade, it lacks proper funding. WeForest has now started an Emergency Fund with local conservation and sustainable development NGO Idesam. This fund will invest in fire prevention and firefighting in Apui.
As deforestation in the Amazon is approaching existing local communities, the risk of fires spreading from unclaimed lands to lands of local farmers has increased. With 26% of all fires in the Amazonas state, Apui is number 5 in the list of Brazilian cities with the highest number of recent fire outbreaks. Besides being extremely damaging for native fauna and flora, it is disastrous for local farmers who are legally required to have a certain percentage of forest on their land.
For the remainder of Brazil's dry season, WeForest and Idesam will start with an analysis to understand the fire outbreak dynamics and identify those responsible. After this, the main sectors involved (city hall employees as well as local associations and unions) will be trained and equipped for firefighting and fire prevention. Moreover, the small already present but underfunded fire brigade will be actively supported and empowered. Finally, major action will be taken to put out the fires.
Education and training should reduce the number of fire outbreaks in Apui allowing the burnt areas to naturally regenerate and bring forth healthy forest again. It may take a while to undo the damage done by the 2019 fires but this is part of the first step in the right direction.