Home to Over 10% of the World’s Species is Burning; Here’s Why

The Amazon Rainforest is on fire. Here’s some background information on why it’s burning, how it’s going to affect the world, and how to get involved.


Mario Tama/Getty

A picture of the Amazon Rainforest burning.

Why is the Amazon Rainforest Burning?

Across the Amazon Rainforest, over 90,000 fires have burned. That’s over 60% more than last year, as specified by National Geographic But what is causing all of these fires? According to PBS, “The fires are mainly being set by ranchers and farmers seeking to clear land for cultivation.” Ranchers and farmers that live near the Amazon set fires to clear land so that they can grow crops or raise cattle on it. This is a common occurrence, but the fires became more uncontrollable this year than in previous years.

How is it going to affect the oxygen levels?

Rumor has it that the Amazon Rainforest is the Earth’s “lungs” and that it produces 20% of the Earth’s oxygen. However, the Amazon only supplies around 6-10% of the Earth’s oxygen, according to National Geographic, as well as PBS. The majority of the world’s oxygen comes from phytoplankton in the ocean.

How is this going to affect the animals that live there?

Did you know that the Amazon is home to more than 10% of the world’s species? That’s a lot of animals! Those animals’ homes are being destructed more and more by the fires set each year. As PBS said, “For every acre lost, an entire species could disappear right along with it.” All of the animals living in the Amazon are in danger of losing their homes.

You might be saying, ‘Well why are all these animals so important?’ According to NHPBS, “Every species has a niche in its ecosystem that helps keep the system healthy.” Every one of the species has a role in their home, and without that species, the ecosystem must adapt without it. But more than just one species are dying off, resulting in a drastic change. This is not healthy for an ecosystem. So much loss and change in such a short amount of time could result in the ecosystem failing.

We estimate that the forest areas in the Brazilian Amazon have decreased something between 20 and 30% compared to the last 12 months.”

— Carlos Nobre, a researcher at the University of São Paulo

How can I help/get involved?

The Amazon Rainforest plays a significant role in our world. To help, you can reduce your paper and wood consumption, oil consumption, and beef consumption (How to Help). If you want to donate, the websites below are some resources:

Earth Alliance

Amazon Conservation Association

Amazon Conservation Team

Amazon Watch

Rainforest Foundation US

Rainforest Trust

Rainforest Action Network