Looking Back: Providing Assistance During the 2019 Amazon Fires

August 31, 2020

August 2020 just ended its run as a severe Amazon fire month, with 621 major fires being recorded in the Brazilian Amazon alone, with increasing fires being in Peru and 52 major fires in Bolivia as well. The vast majority of the major fires (80%) are burning recently deforested areas, defined here as areas where the forest was previously and recently cleared (between 2018-20) prior to burning. In fact, over a million acres (435,000 hectares) of recently deforested areas burned in 2020.

However, since last year’s fires, we were able to relaunch a real-time fire monitoring app, with improved methodology and the ability to predict fires based on deforestation trends. The new app uses both aerosol and heat data to prioritize large fires (traditional fire alerts use only heat data), and was one of the many initiatives that we were able to undertake with our supporters’ help during last year’s fires season.

Let’s look back at what other assistance we were able to give during the 2019 fire season.

Volunteer holding 50 fire protection vests
Volunteer holding 50 fire protection vests

Along with this novel app that helps us monitor from the sky, our organization was also helping fight fires on the ground in Bolivia.

As part of our fire management efforts, we worked with several organizations to generate reliable information to implement actions that are helping firefighters and inhabitants of affected areas. We were able to provide communities and governments with fire prevention training and supplies, so that local people could be better prepared and at the forefront of preventing and fighting forest fires.

Donations that we received last year turned into immediate action during the heart of the fire season, enabling us to move quickly to support communities and governments in firefighting and prevention efforts. Using the donations we received, we:

Supplies for volunteers
Supplies for Volunteer Firefighters

Provided 50 firefighting suits and firefighting tools, as well as water, food, and supplies to more than 100 Bolivian volunteer firefighters and park rangers as they worked together to extinguish the fires.

Supported the protection of and firefighting activities in 6 protected areas that were directly affected by the widespread fires in Bolivia, which cover over 17 million of acres of vulnerable and unique ecosystems.

Provided much-needed supplies and maintenance for the vehicles used to mobilize Bolivian fire brigades and park rangers to where the fires were at their worst, for the entire 3 months of the emergency.

Food Supplies for Volunteer Firefighters and Park Rangers
Food Supplies for Volunteer Firefighters

Created 12 real-time, fact-based satellite reports of the fires across the Amazon (with a special focus on Brazil and Bolivia) – dispelling myths and giving policymakers, government officials, the media, and the general public up-to-date information on what was actually happening on the ground.

Provided drone overflights in Peru to analyze the impact of the fires in the region and report this vital information to local governments and affected communities. 

Food for native species who's food sources were destroyed by the fires
Food for native species

Provided food for native species whose food sources were destroyed by the fires.

Advanced our conservation work in the Amazon to ensure the present and future protection of conservation areas and indigenous reserves, that helps governments and local people prevent fires and deforestation from happening in the first place.

We are so grateful for all the support we received last year, and continue to use what was left of donations last year address fires again this year. Additionally, we have improved our real-time fire monitoring app to be more precise, aiding local authorities in detecting and addressing large fires. To support important fire detection and prevention efforts, click here.