Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has said it is a "lie" that fires are ravaging the Amazon rainforest, despite data from his own government showing the number of blazes is rising.
The far-right leader has faced international condemnation for presiding over huge fires and rising deforestation in the Amazon -- criticism he took issue with in a speech to a video conference of countries that share the world's biggest rainforest.
"Tropical rainforest doesn't catch fire. So this story that the Amazon is burning is a lie, and we have to fight it with real numbers," he said Tuesday.
Yet satellite data from Brazil's national space agency, INPE, show the number of forest fires in the Brazilian Amazon last month rose 28 percent from July 2019, to 6,803.
Experts say the fires are typically not sparked naturally, but set by humans to clear land illegally for farming and ranching.
Last year, huge fires devastated the Amazon from May to October, sending a thick haze of black smoke all the way to Sao Paulo, thousands of kilometers away. The fires triggered worldwide alarm over a forest seen as vital to curbing climate change. Experts warn this year's dry season, which is just getting started, could see even more fires.
The scrutiny is pressuring Bolsonaro, who has called for protected Amazon lands to be opened up to mining and agriculture.