Science

Brazil: nearly 8,500 km2 of Amazon rainforest deforested in 2020

The deforestation of the Amazon in Brazil reached 8,426 km2 in 2020, 8% less than the historical record of last year, but a figure considered extremely worrying by specialists, very critical of the environmental policy of President Jair Bolsonaro.

The deforested area identified by the satellites of the Institute for Space Research (Inpe) is more than five times that of the city of Sao Paulo, the most populous in the country.

It is as if more than two football fields disappeared every minute in the Amazon last year (1.2 million in total).

In December, 216 km2 were deforested, against 190 km2 in 2019, an increase of 14%.

But the most devastating months were, as every year, the dry season, with 1,658 km2 deforested in July and 1,358 km2 in August.

Deforestation in the Amazon had broken all records in 2019, the first year of President Jair Bolsonaro’s mandate, with 9,178 km2 devastated.

“In two years of Bolsonaro’s mandate, we have had the two worst years (for deforestation). Forest fires have also increased in those two years”, deplores Marcio Astrini, of the NGO collective Climate Observatory.

“It is not a coincidence, it is the result of the policies of environmental destruction put in place by the government”, he insists.

The data made public on Friday were collected by the DETER system, which lists in real time deforestation alerts observed by satellite.

Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon (AFP – Nicolas RAMALLO)

Inpe also uses another system, PRODES, which presents data collected from August to July once a year.

And these numbers are even more alarming, with 11,088 km2 deforested from August 2019 to July 2020, an area larger than Jamaica and an increase of 9.5% over the previous year.

Forest fires also increased by 16% in 2020 compared to the previous year, with 103,000 outbreaks recorded.

Not to mention the 22,000 households in the Pantanal, located in the south of the Amazon, a sanctuary of biodiversity and the largest wetland on the planet, devastated over nearly a quarter of its surface with a 120% increase in fires in 2020.

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