Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has increased by almost 22% in one year, exceeding 13,000 km2, an unmatched record in 15 years that casts doubt on the declared willingness of the Jair Bolsonaro government to reverse the trend with more “farm” actions.
Between August 2020 and July 2021, deforestation in the world’s largest tropical forest spread over 13,235 km2, the largest area since 2005-2006 (14,286 km2), according to data from the deforestation monitoring system PRODES, of the National Institute of Space Research (INPE) of Brazil, published on Thursday.
This is the third consecutive year that deforestation has increased since the rise to power of far-right president Jair Bolsonaro, who has come under international criticism for weakening surveillance of the Amazon biome (ecosystem) and encouraging extractive activities in protected areas. .
These figures represent “a challenge for us and we will have to be tougher in the face of environmental crimes,” Brazil’s Environment Minister Joaquim Leite said at a press conference in Brasilia shortly after the document was published.
However, he said that these data “do not accurately reflect the reality of recent months.”
However, according to data published last week by INPE, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon reached 877 km2 in October, a record for this month of the year in five years.
The Brazilian government says it has stepped up its efforts to fight illegal deforestation by increasing the presence of soldiers for three months in the worst affected areas.
Deforestation is attributed in particular to illegal mining and ranching.
“To those who persist in committing these environmental crimes, (we warn) that the Brazilian state will show all its strength in the Amazon,” said the Minister of Justice and Public Security, Anderson Torres.
Upon coming to power in 2019, thanks in part to the support of the powerful agribusiness lobby, President Bolsonaro said he wanted to open up protected lands and indigenous reserves to agriculture and mining.
For three years, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has reached an annual average of around 10,000 km2 – the area of Lebanon – against about 6,500 km2 during the previous decade.
– Objectives of COP26 –
“This result is the result of a persistent, planned and continuous effort to destroy the environmental protection policies” under the Bolsonaro government, said in a statement Marcio Astrini, executive secretary of the Climate Observatory, which groups together the main NGOs and environmental institutes. active in Brazil, including WWF and Greenpeace.
The Observatory also accused the government of having hidden the data until after COP26, since the document, published this Thursday by INPE, linked to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, is dated October 27, 2021.
“The government already had deforestation data in hand at the time of the Scotland Climate Conference and deliberately omitted it,” the NGO said.
“The information I have is that it was leaked today,” the Environment Minister replied.
At COP26 in Glasgow, Brazil pledged to advance two years, from 2030 to 2028, the deadline to eliminate illegal deforestation in its territory, which is home to 60% of the Amazon.
“We will certainly be more assertive to reverse the (deforestation) figures and achieve the goal that was announced at the conference,” concluded Leite.
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