Deforestation in Amazon rainforest exceeds 11,000 km²
Amid a loosening of environmental laws under Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro, deforestation in the Amazon rainforest has exceeded 11,000 square kilometers, according to official data released Monday.
The data shows that deforestation reached its worst rate since 2008, when a national deforestation monitoring program called PRODES recorded 12,911 km² deforested. PRODES monitors deforestation in the Legal Amazon, comprising the western territory of the state of Maranhão and the entire territory of the states of Acre, Amapá, Amazonas, Mato Grosso, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima and Tocantins, using satellites and has published annual rates since 1988.
The deforested area in the Amazon was 11,088 km² between August 2019 and July 2020, according to official figures by the National Institute of Space Research (Inpe), an increase of 9.5% over the previous period (August 2018 to July 2019), which recorded 10,129 km².
Measurements are made comparing satellite images from the end of July with those of the beginning of August of the previous year, dates that coincide with the dry season in the region, when there are fewer clouds that could interfere in the calculations.
The data released today show that the Bolsonaro administration and Environment Minister Ricardo Salles failed to fulfill plans announced in 2019.
Without citing any goal, Salles said at the time that he intended to eliminate illegal deforestation with the establishment of what he called just "strategies," without explaining them.
At Inpe's headquarters Monday, Vice President Hamilton Mourao, who chairs the Amazon Council, said the Armed Forces' employment in fighting deforestation started "late."
Mourao said the presence of the military is already having an effect, since an increase of 20% in the deforested area was estimated.
"It's nothing to celebrate. Quite the contrary. Our final desire is to have no more illegal deforestation under any circumstances," said Mourao.