Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon fell between August 2021 and July 2022, but overall it has risen sharply since incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro came to power, according to official data released on Wednesday.
Some 11,568 km2 of forests, corresponding to an area larger than that of Qatar, were destroyed in the Brazilian Amazon between August 2021 and July 2022, a reference period analyzed by the PRODES satellite monitoring system of the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) in Brazil.
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Deforestation between August 2021 and July 2022 thus fell by 11.3% compared to the same period a year earlier, when the INPE had counted 13,038 km2 of forests destroyed, the highest figure in fifteen years.
The Bolsonaro government, “a machine for destroying forests”
This decline in deforestation, however, closes four years of what environmental activists describe as disastrous management of the Amazon under the mandate of the far-right incumbent president. Since he came to power, average annual deforestation has increased by 59.5% compared to the previous four years, and by 75.5% compared to the previous decade, according to INPE.
Jair Bolsonaro’s successor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (left), has promised to strive for zero deforestation when he takes office on 1er January for a third term, having governed the country from 2003 to 2010.
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“The Bolsonaro government has been a machine for destroying forests”notes in a press release Marcio Astrini, executive secretary of the Climate Observatory, a coalition of environmental organizations.
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“Jair Bolsonaro will leave his successor a disgusting legacy of rampant deforestation and a burning Amazon”he adds, urging the future President Lula to show ” zero tolerance “ with regard to crimes against the environment.
According to experts, the vast majority of clearcuts and fires that ravage the Amazon are intended to create agricultural land, especially for cattle breeding, while Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of beef.
The specter of the “tipping point”
Environmental activists accuse Jair Bolsonaro of gutting Brazil’s environmental protection programs and encouraging forest destruction through his agribusiness and mining policies.
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“The Amazon is getting closer and closer to a tipping point”is alarmed in a press release Mariana Napolitano, scientific director of the Brazilian office of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).