The Amazon rainforest has recorded its highest rate of deforestation over a single-year period in 15 years. The findings come after Brazil pledged to end illegal deforestation by 2030 at this month’s COP26 climate summit.
Brazil’s National Institute of Space Research (also known as Inpe) has released a report revealing the Amazon lost 13,235 square kilometres (or 5,100 square miles) of rainforest between August 2020 and July 2021. This is the largest amount of deforestation per square kilometre since 2006, when 14,286 square kilometres of forestry were eradicated.
Deforestation has increased by roughly 22 per cent compared to the previous year’s recording period. According to the report, this will be the fourth consecutive year to show increasing rates of deforestation.
The Amazon rainforest occupies 6.7 million km2 in area. The area spans across land in nine different nations. However, 60 per cent of the Amazon resides within Brazil.
A study released in June of this year showed the Amazon rainforest is now releasing more carbon than it absorbs. Greenpeace found that the rainforest has been reduced by over 18 per cent in the last 40 years.
Some have attributed the increasing deforestation to Brazil’s President, Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro has been widely criticised for loosening regulations on deforestation and land protections since taking on the presidency in 2019.
“This is the real Brazil that the Bolsonaro government tries to hide with fantastical speeches and actions of greenwashing abroad,” World Wildlife Fund executive director Mauricio Voivodic told Associated Press.
“The reality shows that the Bolsonaro government accelerated the path of Amazon destruction.”
The report’s findings come only a few weeks after Brazil’s attendance at the COP26 climate summit. At the summit, Brazil agreed to end illegal deforestation by 2030.
The report was dated October 27, four days before the summit began. However, it was only released one week after the summit’s conclusion.
Brazilian Environment Minister Joaquim Leite told the BBC the data represents a “challenge”. With regards to illegal deforestation, Leite said the government will “have to be more forceful in relation to these crimes”.
During a tour in Dubai last week, Bolsonaro called criticisms of Brazil’s deforestation “unfair”.
“We want people to know the real Brazil,” he said.
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