Amazon deforestation in Brazil surges to worst in 15 years

Published : November 19, 2021 18:15 IST

Brazil has lost more than 13,000 square kilometers of rainforest over the past year. Photo: Fernando Souza/ZUMA Press/picture alliance

This comes after the Brazilian government committed to end illegal deforestation at the U.N. climate summit.

The area deforested in Brazil’s Amazon has reached a 15-year high, according to official data published on November 18. This represents a 22 per cent jump from the prior year. The National Institute for Space Research’s Prodes monitoring system showed the Brazilian Amazon lost 13,235 square kilometers of rainforest in the period from August 2020 to July 2021. Early data for the 2021-2022 period shows further deterioration.

What is Bolsonaro's track record on the Amazon?

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro took office with promises to develop the Amazon. His administration has defanged environmental authorities and backed legislative measures to loosen land protections. The Brazilian Amazon hadn't recorded a single year with more than 10,000 square kilometers of deforestation in over a decade before Bolsonaro's term started in January 2019.

He has recently made attempts to shore up his environmental credibility and made overtures to U.S. President Joe Biden. The Brazilian government moved forward its commitment to end illegal deforestation at the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow this month. "This is the real Brazil that the Bolsonaro government tries to hide with fantastical speeches and actions of greenwashing abroad," said Mauricio Voivodic, international environmental group WWF's executive director for Brazil. "The reality shows that the Bolsonaro government accelerated the path of Amazon destruction."

What is being done to prevent deforestation?

The E.U. presented a proposal to restrict imports on goods linked to deforestation on November 17. The Brazilian agricultural association Sociedade Rural Brasileira decried this proposal in a statement: "[we] will give complete support to our representatives so that our country's autonomy can be preserved."

Environment Minister Joaquim Leite said that the data "does not reflect the actions of the Government over the last few months." Brazilian Justice Minister Anderson Torres promised to use "total force" to reduce illegal deforestation in the country.

sdi/rt (AP, AFP, Lusa, dpa)

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