Forest fire emergency demands ambitious EU action now | WWF
Forest fire emergency demands ambitious EU action now

Posted on 27 August 2020

Global fire alerts as of April 2020 are already up 13% compared to 2019 - which was a record year for fires - a new WWF report finds. These unprecedented wildfires are driven by persistent hotter and drier weather due to climate change, and deforestation - caused primarily by land conversion for agriculture.
Deforestation has been steadily rising in the Brazilian Amazon, with deforestation alerts from August 2019 to July 2020 33% higher than in the same period in the previous year. The latest data shows fires in the Brazilian Amazon this year are more than 52% higher than the 10-year average. July figures show a 28% increase in the number of fires over the same period last year due to soaring levels of illegal deforestation. 

Anke Schulmeister-Oldenhove, Senior Forest Policy Officer at WWF EU, said: “The EU needs to face up to its share of the responsibility for the Amazon fires and deforestation across the globe. We import products like soy and beef from Brazil. Agriculture expansion for such products is currently fuelling deforestation and fires in the Amazon but also the destruction of other pristine nature like the Cerrado. EU consumers need to be sure that the products they buy are not linked to deforestation and forest fires: we need a new, strong EU law to achieve this.”

The EU is the world’s second-largest market for forest-risk commodities, such as soy and beef, after China. While the EU imports less soy than China, studies (1, 2) show its soy imports carry a greater risk of being linked to deforestation.

The European Commission is set to launch a public consultation on a new EU law on deforestation in the coming weeks. This is a key chance to make a difference to the EU’s deforestation footprint and drastically reduce the EU’s role in forest fires abroad. 

Humans are responsible for at least 75% of all wildfires, the WWF report highlights. If trends continue, there will be devastating long-term consequences from the release of millions of extra tonnes of CO2. This is on top of the destruction of vital ecosystems, and the threat to human lives and livelihoods. 

Contact information:
Anke Schulmeister-Oldenhove
Senior Forest Policy Officer WWF European Policy Office
+32 485 843 144

Zoë Casey
Communications Officer - Forests WWF European Policy Office
+32 479 739 928
Fires in Rio Branco, Acre, Amazon (Brazil)
© Odair Leal - WWF Brasil