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Amazon deforestation in Brazil remains near 15-year high



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RIO DE JANEIRO — Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon slowed slightly last year, a year after a 15-year high, according to closely watched numbers released Wednesday. The data is published by the National Space Research Institute.

The agency’s Prodes monitoring system shows that the rainforest has lost an area roughly the size of Qatar, about 11,600 square kilometers (4,500 sq mi) in the 12 months between August 2021 and July 2022.

This is down 11% from the previous year, when more than 13,000 square kilometers (5,000 square miles) were destroyed.

For more than a decade, things seem to be getting better for the Brazilian Amazon. Deforestation fell dramatically and never increased again above 10,000 square kilometers. That was before the term of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, which began in January 2019.

This will be the last report published under Bolsonaro, as he has lost his re-election bid and will leave office on January 1. But part of the destruction that has taken place under him will not emerge. through the following year, including the pivotal August-October 2022. Previews of those months come from another federal satellite system that provides faster but less accurate data : It shows deforestation spiked 45% between August and October of the previous year. Traditionally, that time of year sees the most devastation, due to the dry season.

A new analysis of annual data from the Climate Observatory, a network of environmental groups, shows that during Bolsonaro’s four years of leadership, deforestation increased by 60% compared with the previous four years. That’s the largest percentage increase under a presidency since satellite surveillance began in 1998.

In one state, Para, the rate of devastating destruction has decreased by 21% but it is still central to the loss of a third of Brazil’s Amazon forest. Part of the cutting and burning of trees occurs in protected surface areas. One such area is the Paru State Forest, where the nonprofit Amazon Institute of People and Environment registered 2 square kilometers (0.7 square miles) of deforestation in October alone.

Jakeline Pereira, a researcher with the Amazon Institute, told The Associated Press: “In recent years, deforestation has spread to protected areas where there was previously little devastation. “In the area of ​​Paru, the destruction is driven by the leasing of land to grow soybeans and cattle.”

Another important region is the southern part of Amazonas state, the only state with an increase in deforestation according to the most recent data, 13% year over year. Much of that is due to Mr. Bolsonaro’s effort to pave about 400 kilometers (250 miles) of the only road that connects Manaus, home to 2.2 million people, with Brazil’s larger urban centers to the south. . Most deforestation in the Amazon occurs along roads where access is easier and land values ​​are higher.

Researchers and environmentalists have blamed Bolsonaro’s policies for the increase in deforestation. The administration has weakened environmental agencies and advocated legislative measures to relax land protection measures in the name of economic development, combined with a view of occupying a sparsely populated territory. cutting board at any cost. This policy encouraged land grabs and spurred more illegal mining.

Bolsonaro’s successor, former left-wing President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, promised cheering crowds at the recent United Nations climate conference in Egypt to end all deforestation nationwide by 2030. “There will be no climate security if the Amazon is not protected,” he said.

The last time da Silva was president, from 2003 to 2010, deforestation plummeted. On the other hand, he supports initiatives that cause destruction in the long run, such as the construction of the massive Belo Monte hydroelectric dam and generous loans to the beef industry. Cutting down forests for pasture is a major driver of deforestation.

The Amazon rainforest, which is twice the size of India, acts as a buffer against climate change by absorbing large amounts of carbon dioxide. It is also the most biodiverse forest in the world and home to tribes that have lived in the forest for thousands of years, some living in isolation.

“If da Silva wants to reduce deforestation by 2023, he must have been intolerant of environmental crime since Day One. Marcio Astrini, executive secretary of the Climate Observatory said:

The Associated Press’s climate and environment coverage receives support from a number of private foundations. See more about AP .’s climate initiative here. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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