2,500+ major blazes burned across Brazil’s Legal Amazon between late May and early November. Many were on recently deforested lands, indicative of land grabbers converting forests to pastures and croplands, while others were within conserved areas and Indigenous reserves. Of concern: 41% of burns were in standing forests.Estimates say that nearly 5.4 million acres (2.2 million hectares) of Brazil’s Amazon standing rainforest burned this year — an area roughly the size of the country of Wales in the United Kingdom.Brazil’s soaring deforestation rates and Amazon fires point to another problem: the nation is not on track to meet its 2020 goals under the Paris Climate Agreement for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, carbon emissions in Brazil did not fall, but rose by 9.6%, in 2019, the first year of President Jair Bolsonaro’s four-year term.Under its UN climate commitments, Brazil is only required to measure fire-related greenhouse gas emissions from newly deforested lands, not from fires in standing forests. A questionable practice, say some critics, as fires in the Amazon are routinely set by people and escape into forests. The highest CO2 emissions from forest fires in the Amazon don’t happen during the burn, but years later, a new study concludes, complicating emission estimates. It was another intense year for fires in the Amazon. More than 2,500 major blazes burned across Brazil’s Legal Amazon between May 28 and November 3, according to a fire season summary released via the Amazon Conservation Association’s Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP). 2020 was also the most active fire year in the southern Amazon since 2012 all along the region’s so-called “Amazon Arc of Deforestation,” according to NASA. The majority (90%) of the major fires this year detected by MAAP occurred in the Brazilian Amazon. Here, fires aren’t natural but are mostly ignited by humans on deforested lands to clear existing agricultural fields of pests and weeds, or, of far greater concern, as a way for land grabbers to convert forested conserved public lands into private agricultural lands. In 2019, say analysts, most Amazon fires followed a pattern of intentional, often illegal, deforestation to make way for cattle and crops. However, this year a startling number of major fires (41%) burned in standing Amazon rainforest, where fires were not historically naturally occurring. For fire to burn inside the rainforest, it must be a particularly dry year — now likely the result of climate change — with human ignition sources typically on neighboring lands. MAAP estimates that nearly 5.4 million acres (2.2 million hectares) of the Brazilian Amazon’s standing rainforest burned this year, an area roughly the size of the country of Wales in the United Kingdom.