Brazil: World’s largest wetland burns from above and below

THE WORLD’S largest wetland is ablaze, but the fire is often invisible.

In Brazil’s Pantanal, the vegetation compacted under the marshy flood water during the wet season, dries out as ponds and lagoons evaporate, leaving flammable deposits underground that can continue to smolder long after visible flames die down

The fires in Pantanal, which sprawls over 150,000 sq km in Brazil and extends into Bolivia and Paraguay, threaten the region’s biodiversity.

The flames threaten the region’s biodiversity, rich with tapirs, pumas, capybaras and the world’s most dense population of jaguars.

The Pantanal, whose name derives from the Portugal word for swamp, sprawls over more than 150,000sqkm in Brazil and also ectends into Bolivia and Paraguay.

As fires approached emergency workers in the Pantanal this week, they used tractors to cut hrough desiccated trees and shrubs, leaving a gash of brown dirt meant to rob the flames of fuel and stop their spread.

But strong winds can send the flames over the top or underground fires can pass below.

Sometimes it passes under a firebreak and takes the fire fighters by surprise.

Lieutenant Jean Oliveira, leading firefighting efforts

Sometimes you control fire and it’s not really dead, it’s just sleeping

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