RIO DE JANEIRO – The Brazilian Amazon, which is home to the world’s largest tropical rainforest, is on its way to ending 2020 with a record area devastated, according to environmental analysts, as deforestation alerts have grown by 33 percent year-on-year in the period ending July.
There would probably be around 13,000 square kilometers (5,019 square miles) of deforested land or even more than that in November, Marco Astrini, executive secretary of Climate Observatory, told EFE.
In other words, deforestation of the Amazon rainforest will hit its highest level in the last 32 years, since measurement with the current parameters began in 1988.
The environmental advocacy group Astrini represents is a coalition of over 50 civil society organizations working on climate policy in Brazil and the world.
According to data released on Friday by the country’s National Institute for Space Research, a total of 9,125 sq. km is estimated to have been deforested in the “lungs of the planet” in the last 12 months as per satellite alerts.
This system, known as Deter, which monitors illegal logging, fires, and deforestation for mining, serves as a guide to the extent of actual deforestation, which is released in November with consolidated data.
Deforestation in Brazil in 2019 was at its highest level in 11 years with around 10,000 sq. km of forest cut down, which is equivalent to the area of a country such as Lebanon.
In the same year, waves of fires in regions of the vast Brazilian Amazon, such as Rondonia or Para, prompted shock around the globe.
Astrini described the situation in the Brazilian Amazon as “alarming” and attributed it to an increase in environmental crimes and the permissiveness of President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration.
The Brazilian head of state has been criticized by non-governmental organizations and some foreign governments for his anti-environmental policies.
He has been accused of proposing a reduction in environmental control in the region and the legalization of mining in indigenous reserves for the sake of the “progress” of the region.
“Deforestation is out of control, it is consistently increasing, and is being driven by the rise in environmental crime in the Amazon, mainly through the illegal appropriation of public lands, and has, as the big promoter of that scenario, the federal government that does not fight crime,” Astrini said.
The expert’s views were endorsed by other environmental advocacy organizations such as Greenpeace, which denounced the lack of transparency of the government of the far-right leader, and Imazon, which accused the president of wanting to change the laws “to legalize deforested areas.”
According to the expert, the data reveals that the current government has failed to comply with its climate law and in fulfilling the objective of limiting deforestation in the Amazon to a maximum of 3,925 sq. km this year.
“This also diverts us from the path of the Paris Agreement, which will create a series of trade difficulties for Brazil in the critical post-pandemic economic recovery period,” he said.
To combat the rise in deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, more than 60 civil society organizations proposed a five-year ban on the felling of trees in the rainforest to Brazil’s Congress, as well as foreign investors and parliamentarians on Thursday.
In addition to the measure, the organizations also presented other “urgent” actions.
These include tougher penalties for environmental crimes, the resumption of the deforestation control plan, the shielding of the protected area for indigenous people, and the restructuring of some environmental entities of the current government.