(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 15, 2021 aerial view showing smoke rising from an illegal fire destroying Amazonia rainforest in Porto Velho, Rondonia state, Brazil. - Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon reached a record high in the first half of 2022, while June was the worst month for forest fires since 2007, according to official data released on July 1, 2022. (Photo by MAURO PIMENTEL / AFP)

According to data from the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe), more than 2,500 fires were recorded in the Brazilian Amazon in June. This is the highest number of fires for the month of June in the past 15 years. A total of 3750 square kilometers of forest were destroyed in the first half of the year. In June 2007, the Inpe had counted 3519 fires. Since then, the numbers in June have remained below 2,000 fires – until 2019.

2019 was right-wing Jair Bolsonaro’s first year as Brazilian president. He was repeatedly heavily criticized for devastating fires. Environmentalists accuse him of putting up with the fires in order to open up new areas for agriculture, animal husbandry and mining. At the same time, environmental and control authorities have been weakened.

“The dry season has barely begun and the Amazon is already breaking records for environmental degradation. This is not surprising as the region is under severe threat and there is a high level of illegality that continues to destroy large areas and lives,” said Christiane Mazzetti, spokeswoman for Greenpeace Brazil, according to a statement. “It’s time to start thinking about the Amazon we need for our future.”

However, the Brazilian savannahs in the center of the country are even more threatened by deforestation and slash and burn than the Amazon rainforest. The Inpe even registered more than 4,200 fires for the Cerrado – the highest number for June since 2010, when 6,443 fires were detected. The Cerrado is the main source of water for most regions of Brazil.