September 19, 2016
Fire-Prohibition Period in Mato Grosso Extended due to Dryness
It was reported in Olhar Direto late last week that the dry conditions and low humidity in Mato Grosso and central Brazil prompted the Environmental Secretary for the State of Mato Grosso (Sena) to extend the fire-prohibition period in the state until October 4th. If the weather conditions don't improve soon, it could be extended until the end of October. There have been a few showers in the far northern part of the state, but the majority of the state remains dry. The next chance of rainfall in most of the state appears to be the last few days of September and the first few days of October.
From January through September 12th, the number of fires in the state totaled 22,800 compared to 15,400 during the same period in 2015. This represents an increase of 47% compared to last year and a 38% increase compared to the 10-year average. The state of Mato Grosso has had the most fires of any state in Brazil in 2016 followed by Tocantins, Para, and Maranhao. Of the total fires in the state, 63% of the fires were on private property, 22% in indigenous areas, 7% in rural areas, and 7% in conservation or urban areas.
The fire season is especially bad this year due to the dry weather late in 2015 and the early end to the summer rainy season this past April. Most of the fires during the dry season are the result of ranchers clearing dry grass from overgrown pastures. When the grass is burned off, tender new green shoots emerge for the cattle. Many fires are accidentally set as well due to the high temperatures and tinder dry conditions.
The decision to extend the fire prohibited period is the responsibility of the Fire Committee, which is composed of the Environmental Secretary for the state of Mato Grosso (Sena), the State Fire Department, the Public Safety Department (Sesp), the Communication Department, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (Funai), and the Chico Mendes Institute of Conservation and Biodiversity (ICMBio).