U.S. environmental group Earth Alliance pledges $5M to combat Amazon fires

A NASA satellite image shows several fires burning in the Brazilian state of Amazonas. Photo courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory

Aug. 25 (UPI) — U.S.-based environmental organization Earth Alliance pledged $5 million Sunday to combat the fires in the Amazon rainforest.

The organization backed by actor Leonardo DiCaprio, businesswoman Laurene Powell Jobs and investor Brian Sheth formed an emergency Amazon Forest Fund, with 100 percent of donations going toward protecting the rainforest.

“These funds will be distributed directly to local partners and the indigenous communities protecting the amazon, the incredible diversity of wildlife that lives there and the health of the planet overall,” the organization said.

The Vatican also responded to the high number of fires throughout Brazil’s Amazon region, as Pope Francis prayed Sunday that the fires might be contained as soon as possible “with the commitment of all.”

“That forest lung is vital for our planet,” he said.

Satellite data from the Brazil National Institute for Space Research 72,843 fires have taken place in Brazil this year, including more than half in the Amazon region, an 84 percent increase from the same time last year.

On Saturday, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro deployed troops to assist firefighting efforts in the states of Rondonia, Para, Tocantins, Roraima, Acre and Mato Grosso.

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