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The Brazilian constitution offers protections to both the environment and indigenous peoples, but local enforcement agencies often fail to safeguard either.

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About different indigenous groups exist in Brazil, and for decades many of them have fought for the demarcation of their lands. The Brazilian constitution describes indigenous territories as areas where indigenous people can live permanently—that is, where they can practice their cultures and traditions which might include hunting or cutting down trees —even though the land technically still belongs to the government.

The multistep process to demarcate lands as indigenous territories can take years, and requires groups to demonstrate that the land is their ancestral territory. Many groups have been stuck in limbo in that process, waiting and hoping for the government to act.

A slow recovery

That has left groups vulnerable, and once Bolsonaro was elected, their hope for demarcation quickly dimmed. During his campaign for president, Bolsonaro promised that under his presidency there would be no further demarcation of indigenous lands. Environmentalists also believe that demarcation is a key tool for environmental protection and for keeping the Amazon intact. So these burnings are immeasurable losses.


We want to hear what you think about this article. In many ecosystems, including boreal forests and grasslands, plants have co-evolved with fire and require periodic burning to reproduce.

Wildfire - Wildfires Burn More Than 471.000 Hectares Of Land In Bolivia

The colors are based on a count of the number not size of fires observed within a 1,square-kilometer area. White pixels show the high end of the count — as many as 30 fires in a 1,square-kilometer area per day.

National Interagency Fire Center

Orange pixels show as many as 10 fires, while red areas show as few as 1 fire per day. Some of the global patterns that appear in the fire maps over time are the result of natural cycles of rainfall, dryness, and lightning. For example, naturally occurring fires are common in the boreal forests of Canada in the summer. In other parts of the world, the patterns are the result of human activity. Across Africa, a band of widespread agricultural burning sweeps north to south over the continent as the dry season progresses each year.

Agricultural burning occurs in late winter and early spring each year across Southeast Asia. Aerosol Optical Depth. Carbon Monoxide.

A changing Amazon

Show All Maps. Net Primary Productivity.

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