Wildfires in the southern Amazon last year and in the nearby Pantanal region were the worst on record, mainly due to the deadly combination of drought and human activity. These catastrophic fires made 2020 more destructive even than 2019, the previous record-holder for fire damage, according to the World Meteorological Organization’s new report , State of the Climate in Latin America & the Caribbean in 2020, released on Tuesday. The blazes caused irreversible damages to vital ecosystems—and to the people dependent on them. “Continued deforestation is one of the factors that perpetuates these wildfires,” said Jose Marengo, lead author of the report and the director of the National Center for Monitoring Natural Disasters in Sao Paulo. “The Amazon basin has seen an increase in the illegal and legal deforestation over last four years.” Latin America and the Caribbean are home to almost 60% of the world’s remaining native forests. […]