Deforestation in the Amazon unexpectedly grows 22% to its highest level since 2006

(ORDO NEWS) — Deforestation in the Earth‘s largest rainforest has grown by 22%, reaching its highest level since 2006, according to official figures released by the Brazilian government.

Preliminary analysis of satellite data from the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research, INPE, shows that 13,235 square kilometers (5,110 sq mi) of rainforest were deforested in the Brazilian Amazon between August 1, 2020 and July 31, 2021.

The sharp increase came as a surprise: INPE’s near real-time deforestation alert data suggested a modest decrease in deforestation rates compared to last year.
Since 2012, there has been an upward trend in deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.

Deforestation in the Earth’s largest rainforest has grown by 22%, reaching its highest level since 2006, according to official figures released today by the Brazilian government.

A preliminary analysis of satellite data from the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (INPE) reveals that 13,235 square kilometers (5,110 sq mi) of rainforest were deforested in the Brazilian Amazon between August 1, 2020 and July 31, 2021 – an area nearly the size of Maryland or Montenegro. Last year, 10,851 square kilometers of forest were cut down.

The sharp increase came as a surprise: INPE’s near real-time deforestation warning data showed a modest decrease in deforestation rates compared to last year, although independent monitoring by the Brazilian NGO Imazon suggested that Brazil’s deforestation would increase significantly.

Deforestation was led by the state of Amazonas, where deforestation increased by 836 square kilometers, or 55%. It is followed by Mato Grosso (484 sq. Km – 27%), Rondonia (408 sq. Km – 32%) and Para (358 sq. Km – 7%). Deforestation has grown in all nine states that are considered part of the “legal Amazon” as defined by the Brazilian government.

Since 2012, the Brazilian Amazon, which accounts for nearly two-thirds of the Amazon rainforest, has seen an upward trend in deforestation. It accelerated especially sharply during the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro, who campaigned to open up vast forests for loggers, miners, ranchers and industrial agriculture.

The news came a little less than a week after the close of the COP26 conference in Glasgow, Scotland. At the climate conference, Brazil signed the Glasgow Deforestation Declaration and pledged to stop “illegal deforestation” by 2028. However, critics noted that the declaration is not legally binding and that the Bolsonaro administration is relaxing environmental laws, effectively legalizing deforestation that was previously considered illegal, undermining its obligations.

The Brazilian Amazon has lost nearly 20% of its forest cover since the early 1970s. Scientists warn that the ecosystem may be approaching a tipping point, when vast areas of rainforest transform into wooded savannah. This development will have dire consequences for carbon dioxide emissions, biodiversity and regional rainfall, as well as for indigenous peoples and other forest communities.

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