Greenpeace flyover reveals images of illegal fires raging in the Amazon

July 17, 2020

New aerial photos from Mato Grosso state show illegal fires burning in the Brazilian Amazon.

Manaus, Brazil — Today, Greenpeace Brazil released new aerial photos of illegal fires burning throughout the state of Mato Grosso in the Amazon rainforest. Despite a state government ban on fires currently in effect, Mato Grosso has had the highest number of fires in the Brazilian Amazon this year — 4,437 fire hotspots [1], representing 49.52 percent of all fires in the region in 2020 [2].

See images here.

“The images of the Amazon burning in Mato Grosso state are a clear example that a fire ban alone won’t work. Bolsonaro has continued to systematically dismantle environmental protections, so the ban is inadequate and an obvious attempted distraction. Corporations calling for action on the part of the Brazilian government cannot fool themselves and think that Bolsonaro’s sloppy PR moves will have any meaningful impact,” said Romulo Batista, Amazon Campaigner at Greenpeace Brazil.

In June 2020, there was a 19.57 percent increase in fire hotspots in the Brazilian Amazon compared to June 2019 and the largest recorded number for the month since 2007. Deforestation alerts in the Brazilian Amazon also hit a 13-year record high during the month of June, as reported by DETER alerts from monitoring agency INPE. 

Fires in the Amazon rainforest do not occur naturally, but instead are deliberately set by farmers and land grabbers in order to expand industrial agriculture. [3] Indigenous Peoples, already dealing with the disproportionate consequences of COVID-19, will face even higher risk, as fires intensify and air pollution compounds many pre-existing threats to their health.

The Brazilian government’s actions against the environment have been damaging to both the country’s reputation and its economy, as investors, trade partners, and major Brazilian companies have publicly raised concerns over Bolsonaro’s impacts on the climate and human rights. But Bolsonaro’s response has been performative and ineffective, such as deploying the army in costly and inefficient operations to fight deforestation and an insufficient 120-day “fires moratorium.

“Despite last year’s global outcry over the fires, Brazilian officials have welcomed the COVID-19 crisis as a distraction to help them get away with new policies that reward land-grabbers and forest destroyers. The result has been a devastating increase in deforestation, putting both the climate and an increasing number of lives at risk, especially those of Indigenous Peoples,” said Daniel Brindis, Forests Campaign Director at Greenpeace USA. 

“Global investors and the Trump administration must stop supporting Bolsonaro’s doomsday agenda that violates human rights and is pushing the Amazon towards a tipping point in which it will fail as an ecosystem.”


[1] Number of hotspots registered from January 1 to July 13, 2020.

[2] Analysis based on INPE (Brazilian Space Research Institute) data.


Photos and videos are available here.


Katie Nelson, Strategic Communications Specialist, Greenpeace USA: +1 (678) 644-1681, [email protected]

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