Mountains of up to a thousand meters, dense vegetation and flooded areas: what is the place affected by fire in the Pantanal like | Mato Grosso do Sul

Mountains of up to a thousand meters, dense vegetation and flooded areas: what is the place affected by fire in the Pantanal like | Mato Grosso do Sul
Mountains of up to a thousand meters, dense vegetation and flooded areas: what is the place affected by fire in the Pantanal like | Mato Grosso do Sul
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Navy helicopter takes firefighters to contain fire in difficult-to-access region

The massive fire that has already destroyed the equivalent of a thousand football fields in the Pantanal of Mato Grosso do Sul started in one of the most preserved regions of the biome, which can only be accessed by boat or helicopter. Since Friday (26), brigade members have been fighting the fire that is spreading through Serra do Amolar, considered a sanctuary for Pantanal biodiversity. See the video above.

As the name reveals, the region is formed by a group of mountains that reach altitudes of up to a thousand meters and are 80 km long, in addition to being bathed by the Paraguay and Mirim rivers.

The region affected by the fire is approximately 100 km from the urban area of ​​Corumbá. In Serra, there is the base of the Instituto Homem Pantaneiro (IHP), which has been working to conserve the Pantanal for more than 20 years. From there, the 22 brigade members need to travel up to 40 km every day to work on the fires.

“It takes us an average of 5 hours per vessel and also the progression on the ground. It takes hours to progress a few kilometers for this combat. Remembering, right, that it’s not just a walk, it’s a walk with the equipment” highlighted the head of the Defense Center Environmental Protection Fire Department, lieutenant colonel Tatiane Inoue.

1 of 5 Serra do Amolar is a rock formation that lies on the border between Brazil and Bolivia — Photo: Divulgação/Ecoa
Serra do Amolar is a rock formation that lies on the border between Brazil and Bolivia — Photo: Divulgação/Ecoa

In the first few days, firefighters were unable to access the place where the fire started. It was only from Monday (29) that the men from the IHP and the Fire Department accessed the mountainous region by boat. On Wednesday (31), the Navy sent a helicopter to help transport the brigade members. See the video at the beginning of the article.

The fire affects the preservation area located in the municipality of Corumbá (MS). However, the mountain also extends through Cáceres (MT) and also through Bolivia, a neighboring country.

On the Brazilian side, there is the Pantanal Mato-Grossense National Park and three Private Natural Heritage Reserves (RPPNs). In Bolivia, there is the Otuquis National Park and the San Matías Integrated Management Natural Area. See on the map:

2 of 5 Find out where Serra do Amolar is — Photo: g1
Find out where Serra do Amolar is — Photo: g1

“The biggest difficulty we encounter here is the distance between Corumbá and the region where it is on fire. We’ve been fighting since Saturday. We came on Sunday too and that was when the fire came up the hill. We started doing preventive measures since then, which is not letting the fire reach other areas as well”, explains the head of the Alto Pantanal Brigade, Manoel Garcia.

He highlights that one of the team’s priorities is to prevent the flames from reaching an area of ​​30 hectares, where there is a recovery project. In this location, 25 thousand seedlings were planted last year to try to recover the territory hit by fire in 2020.

Serra do Amolar is also considered one of the regions with the greatest tourist potential in the Pantanal due to its beautiful landscapes. The flooded region provides spectacular sunsets for those who decide to take a boat trip at dusk.

The place is also home to several animals considered threatened with extinction, such as the jaguar, puma, giant anteater, catita, giant armadillo and giant otter.

3 of 5 Sunset at Serra do Amolar in MS — Photo: publicity/federal government
Sunset at Serra do Amolar in MS — Photo: publicity/federal government

4 of 5 Sunset at Serra do Amolar, in Mato Grosso do Sul. — Photo: Paulo Augusto
Sunset at Serra do Amolar, in Mato Grosso do Sul. — Photo: Paulo Augusto

About three years after the fires that devastated the Pantanal in 2020, fire is once again a concern in the Serra do Amolar region, in Mato Grosso do Sul. Currently, around 22 people from the IHP, Fire Department, Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) and Navy are working to fight the fire.

Ibama also distributed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and fire-fighting equipment. Furthermore, the institution stated that a plan is being drawn up to hire integrated fire management brigades and a program to hire staff for a Ready Job Brigade in the Pantanal, located in Corumbá, with the purpose of reinforcing operations during emergency periods.

“We are also counting on the support of the Navy to carry out overflights in points where we cannot reach either on foot or by boat. So, reconnaissance in these areas to understand how we can work in these places, understand “What is the direction of this fire and what are the risks? So, air support in Serra da molar is essential”, reported IHP operations coordinator, Isabelle Bueno.

5 of 5 Team works to fight fire in Serra do Amolar — Photo: Disclosure/IHP
Team works to fight fire in Serra do Amolar — Photo: Disclosure/IHP

Out of time: Lieutenant Colonel Tatiane Inoue highlights that the month of January is when the Pantanal begins to flood, with the help of summer rains. Fire generally hits the biome during dry periods, mainly between the months of September and November.

For the lieutenant colonel, a fire of this proportion in the middle of the Pantanal’s flood season is worrying.

“Because it makes it clear how climate change is already intensifying these extreme events. January, naturally, is almost the height of the flood in the Pantanal, when water is gushing everywhere, as the Pantanalers say, right? Pantanal is a reflection that climate change is increasingly accentuating these extreme weather events and the tendency is for this to worsen over the years. Pantanal has become increasingly dry and, consequently, more susceptible to fire”he highlighted.

Fire consumes more than 1 thousand hectares of biodiversity sanctuary in the Pantanal

The farmer lost control of the flames, which spread quickly, due to the strong concentration of combustible elements in the Pantanal soil.

“Unfortunately, an isolated attitude caused the fire to continue spreading. It is a place that is difficult to access, climbing the mountain, reaching altitudes of almost a thousand meters. So the reinforcement is taking place so that we can have minimal control and we are in fans for a climatic event to happen, a rain to help”, reported the president of the IHP, Colonel Angelo Rabelo.

Watch videos from Mato Grosso do Sul:

The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Mountains thousand meters dense vegetation flooded areas place affected fire Pantanal Mato Grosso Sul

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