Amazon Deforestation Soars To 12-Year High
Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest has reached a 12-year high, according to the country’s space agency.
Official data from the National Institute for Space Research revealed that a total of 11,088 square kilometres (2.7 million acres) of the world’s largest rainforest had been destroyed between August 2019 and July 2020, an increase of 9.5% from the previous year.
Brazil had previously set a target of reducing deforestation to 3,900 square kilometres by this year, however it has actually seen almost three times that amount of destruction.
The speed at which the forest is being destroyed is believed to have accelerated since President Jair Bolsonaro took office in January 2019, thanks to his encouragement of mining activities and weakening of environmental enforcement.
The Amazon plays a huge part in balancing carbon dioxide levels on Earth, and so it’s feared that deforestation could release too much carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere, speeding up global warming.
Bolsonaro, who doesn’t believe in climate change, claimed earlier this year that there had been no fires in the rainforest this summer, branding evidence from his own government that showed thousands of fires as a ‘lie’.
He has also cut funding to federal agencies that were responsible for fining and arresting farmers and loggers who break environmental laws.
While the amount of deforestation is higher than the previous year’s figure, Brazilian non-governmental organisation Climate Observatory said the fact that the rate of increase was lower than the previous year’s shows there has been progress.
The figures ‘reflect the result of a successful initiative to annihilate the capacity of the Brazilian State and the inspection bodies to take care of our forests and fight crime in the Amazon’, according to the organisation, as per the BBC.
Meanwhile, data released in November revealed that the number of fires in Brazil’s Amazon region had doubled in October 2020, compared to October 2019.
A total of 17,326 fires were recorded in the Amazon this October, compared to 7,855 fires in the previous year, according to the Institute of Space Research.
In July 2019, the government imposed a 120-day ban on setting fires, however looking at the figures it doesn’t appear to have any impact whatsoever.
Not only will the reduction of the rainforest have huge impacts on carbon dioxide levels, it will also affect the one million indigenous people and three million species of animals and plants that call the rainforest home.
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