Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has seen a significant drop of 40% compared to the same period last year, according to recent government data. The decline comes as a remarkable achievement for President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who has pledged to address forest loss.
Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) announced the largest decline in deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, marking a major milestone in the tenure of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Amazon deforestation is down
In April alone, deforestation experienced a remarkable 68% decrease from the previous year. About 127 square miles (329 square kilometers) of forest were destroyed, falling below the historical average of 176 square miles (456 square kilometers) for April, Reuters reported.
However, it remains uncertain whether this downward trend will persist as we approach the end of summer, when forest loss typically peaks. Mariana Napolitano from WWF-Brazil stated: “The numbers are at a very high level and the dry season, which is favorable to deforestation, has not started yet.”
While deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is showing signs of improvement, the country’s arid Cerrado region is seeing an alarming increase in land clearing. Authorities reported an increase in deforestation within the Brazilian savannah this year, with WWF-Brasil’s Edegar de Oliveira emphasizing that this destruction has already consumed half the biome, occurring against a backdrop of continued and increasing devastation.
According to her, compliance measures need to continue and be consolidated to ensure that destruction rates continue to fall. “Other initiatives are necessary, such as the incentive for the green economy, the creation of protected areas and the demarcation of indigenous lands, such as those that were carried out recently,” she says.
INPE also released the new consolidated values of the PRODES System, which establishes the official deforestation rate for the Legal Amazon, confirming an 11% drop in deforestation in 2022, after four consecutive years of increase. Although the fall is a good sign, the destruction is still at very high levels: 11,594 km².
The deforestation trend in the Amazon has been increasing since 2012, with values practically tripling in 10 years. The greatest acceleration occurred between 2019 and 2021, during the Jair Bolsonaro government, when annual deforestation rates exceeded the 10,000 km² mark.
The situation in the Cerrado region is increasingly alarming. Recent DETER data reveals that in the first four months of 2023, an area of 2,133 km² was devastated, representing an increase of 17% compared to the same period last year and a staggering 48% increase above average historical. In April alone, deforestation increased by 31% compared to April 2022, resulting in the deforestation of an area of 709 km², which is double the deforestation in the Legal Amazon.
Additionally, these figures may be underestimates due to persistent cloudiness, which obscures precise measurements for the past four months.
Approximately 80% of the deforestation alerts occurred in the MATOPIBA region, which includes the states of Maranhão, Tocantins, Piauí and Bahia. This area is considered the main frontier for agricultural expansion in Brazil and represents one of the main fronts for the destruction of ecosystems worldwide.
During the first nine months of the annual measurement period conducted by DETER, starting on August 1, deforestation alerts covered an area of 3,473 km² in the Cerrado biome. This represents a 10% increase compared to the previous period (August 2021 to April 2022) and a 15% increase over the historical average.
Edegar de Oliveira, Director of Conservation and Restoration of Ecosystems of WWF-Brazil, expresses concern about the continuous and increasing destruction of the Cerrado. He points out that half of the biome has already been consumed, mainly due to intense agricultural activities.
“The importance of the Cerrado extends beyond its limits, since it is the origin of the main river basins of Brazil. Deforestation represents a threat to water security in large cities and jeopardizes the productivity of the agricultural sector, which depends on a stable rainfall regime” he said.
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