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Brazil has banned most legal fires used to clear land for 60 days in a bid to stop the spread of burning which has destroyed parts of the Amazon rain forest. The ban coincides with the dry season in Brazil, which is when most fires are usually set.

There has been more than an 80 per cent increase in the number of fires in Brazil. Critics say people have become emboldened to burn more after president Jair Bolsonaro claimed rain forest protections were slowing down the country’s economy. Mr Bolsonaro has suggested that environmental groups have been setting illegal fires to try and destabilise his government.

Brazilian federal experts reported a record number of wildfires across the country this year, up 84% over the same period in 2018. Amazon fires are a common occurrence, Greenpeace UK spokeswoman Alison Kirkman said, but added that there has been a “huge” increase this year.

A 60-day ban on burning in Brazil took effect Thursday after a global outcry over fires raging in the Amazon and data showing hundreds of new blazes in the rainforest.

Thousands of troops and firefighters have been deployed since the weekend to combat the fires, along with two C-130 Hercules and other aircraft that are dumping water over affected areas in the country’s north. Police on Thursday arrested three people for burning more than 5,000 hectares (12,350 acres) in a conservation area in Para state.

More than 1,600 new fires were ignited between Tuesday and Wednesday, taking this year’s total to almost 85,000—the highest number since 2010, official data shows. Around half of them are in the vast Amazon basin.

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Image courtesy Leo Correa / AP and phys.org

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