Brazil’s Amazon rainforest was deforested by 22% in the year just ended, surpassing 2006’s record. This report contradicts President Jair Bolsonaros’s assurances about curbing illegal logging.
Brazil’s INPE space agency recorded 13,235sqkm (5.110 square miles), of deforestation in the largest rainforest in satellite-data. The report was released on Thursday. This area is nearly 17 times that of New York City. The official data on deforestation covers the period August 2020 through July 2021.
Bolsonaros efforts for showing his government is serious in protecting the Amazon, which is crucial to preventing catastrophic climate change, are not enough to stop the destruction.
The former army captain of extreme right still advocates for more mining and commercial farming in protected rainforest areas.
Brazil’s government made a pledge at the UN climate summit held in Glasgow this month to end illegal deforestation by 2028. This would require aggressive annual reductions.
The INPE report shows that deforestation has increased in each of four cycles. This is the first time this data series has been shown since at least 2000. Climate Observatory, a Brazilian advocacy group, claims that the government knew Cop26’s deforestation data, but concealed it.
According to a source familiar with the matter, the government had the data before the UN summit.
Brazil’s government had presented preliminary monthly data that showed a slight decline over the year as evidence that it was reducing deforestation. The final data was more accurate and showed a dire picture.
The numbers are still a challenge and we need to be more forceful in relation these crimes, Joaquim Pereira Leone, environment minister, said at a Thursday news conference.
He stated to reporters that the data did not reflect recent stepped up enforcement against illegal forest destruction, while acknowledging that the government must do more in order to stop the destruction.
The data also casts doubts on Brazil’s agreement to a global commitment with more than 100 nations to end deforestation by 2030, which was also announced during the summit.
Brazil, which is home to the largest rainforest in the world, was crucial to the global pact. The Amazons trees absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide, which would otherwise cause the planet to heat.
Scientists warn that if enough forests are destroyed, they could reach a tipping level and dry out, turning into savannah.
This would result in huge amounts of carbon being released, almost ensuring the world does not reach the targets to reduce the worst effects of climate changes.
Bolsonaros attempts to show that government is protecting forests have failed. Since 2019, he has deployed the military to Amazon to help with deforestation. Reuters investigated and found that military incompetence and missteps failed to control the environmental damage.
Mauricio Vodic, head of WWF Brazil’s environment group, stated that the numbers revealed the real Brazil the Bolsonaro government tries hide behind imaginary discourses or greenwashing efforts.
He said that the reality is that the Bolsonaro government had accelerated the process of Amazon’s destruction.