amazonia in fire

Au Brésil, la forêt amazonienne en feu est aussi le résultat d’un combat, celui que perdent les arbres face à l’avancée de l’industrie agroalimentaire. Voyage dans le poumon de la terre, par la photographe Cristina de Middel, de l’agence Magnum.


This summer, images of the world’s largest fire-damaged rainforest moved the entire international scene. More than 90,000 fires recorded (the highest toll in nearly a decade), thousands of hectares of biodiversity reduced to ashes.

At the G7 meeting in Biarritz, Emmanuel Macron sounded the alarm and called for “the mobilization of all powers”. Jair Bolsonaro ironicizes the outstretched hand of his foreign counterparts: these “dozens of heads of state[…] will help us to overcome the crisis that only interests those who want to weaken Brazil”.


It was not until August 25 that the country sent its first planes, two C-130 Hercules, to fight the fires, and then accepted foreign aid. The new Brazilian president, who has been in office since January, is indifferent to the fate of the earth’s lung and does not intend to derogate from his economic mantra.

For him, it is a question of exploiting the riches of the Amazonian forest at all costs to boost the Brazilian economy. Recent deforestation figures, against a backdrop of intensified agricultural exploitation, are dizzying. It more than doubled in one year (+278% in July, compared to the same period in 2017). The loss is equivalent to 640,000 football fields….

And violence, due to conflicts of interest between farmers, miners, lobbyists and indigenous people, is intensifying: the Wayapi community leader was recently murdered by gold miners.

In August and September, at the height of the fires, Cristina de Middel, a Spanish photographer with the Magnum agency, left for Mato Grosso State, the epicentre of agri-food production and one of the areas most affected by deforestation. She had already made a name for herself in 2012 with her work on the failure of the space program in Zambia in the 1960s (“The Afronauts”). Today, she delivers, exclusively for the “Obs”, her view on this fight against fire and deforestation which is also a war of territories.