Fires are raging across the world’s largest tropical rain forest as farmers, land-grabbers and loggers torch trees and clear land for crops or grazing. According to Brazil’s National Institute of Space Research, the number of fires detected by satellite in the Amazon region this month is the highest since 2010.

Bowing to international pressure and a global outcry over the destruction of a vital resource in the fight against climate change, president Jair Bolsonaro authorized the deployment of Brazil’s armed forces to help combat blazes,with warplane dumping water on burning tracts of Amazon. Critics say the large number of fires this year has been stoked by Bolsonaro’s encouragement of farmers, loggers and ranchers to speed up efforts to strip away forest.

Brazil’s environment minister, Ricardo Salles, had earlier told reporters that his country welcomed the G7 funding, but after a meeting between Bolsonaro and his ministers, the Brazilian government changed course.

The announcement of the $20m assistance package was the most concrete outcome of the three-day G7 summit of major industrialist democracies in Biarritz and aimed to give money to Amazonian nations such as Brazil and Bolivia, primarily to pay for more firefighting planes.

While the Amazon rain forest is typically wet and humid, July and August — the onset of the dry season — are the region’s driest months,with “activity” peaking by early September and stopping by mid-November, according to NASA.
Fire is often used to clear out the land for farming or ranching. For that reason, the vast majority of the fires can be attributed to humans, Christian Poirier, program director of the nonprofit Amazon Watch, told CNN.

Effects of damage to the Amazon go far beyond Brazil and its neighbors. The area’s rain forest generates more than 20% of the world’s oxygen and is home to 10% of the world’s known biodiversity. The Amazon is referred to as the “lungs of the planet” and plays a major role in regulating the climate. The world would drastically change if the rain forest were to disappear, with impacts on everything from farms to drinking water.

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