Tuesday, 28 May, 2024

Brazil’s Amazon deforestation shatters April record

Deforestation of the world’s largest tropical rainforest soared to record levels last month, destroying more than 1,000 square kilometres, nearly double the previous high.

Climate Observatory said its analysts were astounded by such a high reading of deforestation in April.
Climate Observatory said its analysts were astounded by such a high reading of deforestation in April. (AFP)

Deforestation in Brazil'sAmazon has surged to record levels for the month of April, nearlydoubling the area of forest removed in that month last year, alarming environmental campaigners.

In the first 29 days of April, deforestation in the regiontotaled 1,012.5 sq km, data fromnational space research agency Inpe showed on Friday.

The agency, which hascompiled the monthly DETER-B data series since 2015/2016, willreport data for the final day of April next week.

April is the third monthly record this year, after new highswere also observed in January and February.

Destruction of the Brazilian Amazon in the first four monthsof the year also hit a record for that period at 1,954 sq km, an increase of 69 percent compared to the same period of2021 – clearing an area more than double the size of New YorkCity.

Deforestation in the Amazon has soared since President Jair Bolsonaro took office in 2019 and weakenedenvironmental protection. He argues that more farming andmining in the Amazon will reduce poverty in the region.

"The cause of this record has a first and last name: JairMessias Bolsonaro," said Marcio Astrini, head of Brazilianadvocacy group Climate Observatory, in a statement.

READ MORE:Brazil under Bolsonaro responds to 'less than 3%' of deforestation alerts

'Institutionalised' deforestation

Bolsonaro's office directed questions to the ministries ofenvironment and justice.

The ministries said in a jointstatement the government was making major efforts to fightenvironmental crimes and that police and environmentalauthorities were co-operating on an operation to combatdeforestation in five Amazon states.

Even with deforestation already on the rise, ClimateObservatory said its analysts were astounded by such a highreading in April, which is part of the rainy season when themuddy forest is harder for loggers to access.

Preservation of the Amazon is vital to stopping catastrophicclimate change because of the vast amount of climate-warmingcarbon dioxide it absorbs.

Ane Alencar, science director of the Amazon EnvironmentalResearch Institute (IPAM), said she had expected deforestationto keep rising ahead of the October presidential election, likeit has in Brazil's past three election years, as officials waryof angering voters generally do less to enforce the law. Still,she called the surge in deforestation last month "absurd."

"It seems that the clearing of forests has become institutionalised in the country as something common, with record after record," Alencar said.

READ MORE:Study: Brazil's Indigenous lands block deforestation of Amazon

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