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BR | Dec 2, 2020

Brazil loses rainforest the size of Jamaica, as deforestation increases

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With the COVID-19 pandemic hampering efforts at environmental enforcement, deforestation of Brazil’s Amazon has accelerated. Current rate of deforestation exceeds Brazil’s 2010 National Policy on Climate Change target by 180 per cent. (Photo: New York Times)

There was a 9.5 per cent jump in deforestation in Brazil, resulting in the country losing Amazonian rainforest – equal to the size of Jamaica – between August 1, 2019, and July 31, 2020.

The Brazilian National Institute of Space Research (INPE) released data on Tuesday (December 1) showing the extent of the deforestation, which it is said to be in line with Brazil’s President, Jair Bolsonaro’s stated policy to exploit the world’s largest rainforest.

The data from INPE revealed that nearly 11,088 square kilometres (sq km) of rainforest were deforested in the period August 1, 2019, to July 31, 2020, representing a 9.5 per cent increase.

The non-profit environmental organization, Amazon Watch reports that some 10,129 sq km were recorded as being deforested during the comparable period in 2018-2019. The explosive rate of forest loss greatly exceeded Brazil’s own target established in its 2010 National Policy on Climate Change.

That target prescribed a maximum of 3,900 sq km of deforestation for 2020. However, based on the latest data, Amazon Watch argues that Brazil is 180 per cent above its target.

Deforestation undermining Brazil Paris Climate Accord commitments

This level of deforestation is greatly undermining Brazil’s ability to fulfil commitments in the Paris Climate Accord, which expected to go into effect in 2021. The Amazon’s deforestation has steadily been increasing since President Bolsonaro took office two years ago with Amazon Watch indicating that prior to his presidency, Brazil’s deforestation was below 10,000 sq km for a decade.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. (Photo: NBC News)

This rapid spike in deforestation means that Brazil is the only country in the world reporting a major increase in greenhouse gas emissions in 2020. This is particularly troubling given the fact that the global economy has been stalled due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has led to a slowing down greenhouse gas emissions.

2019-2020 deforestation mainly concentrated in state of Pará

Deforestation in Brazil during 2019-2020 had occurred mainly in the Amazonian state of Pará, which accounted for 46.8 per cent of the deforestation evidenced in Brazil. Christian Poirier, Program Director of Amazon Watch issued a statement emphasising “the unchecked destruction of the Brazilian Amazon under the Bolsonaro regime threatens not only the future of the forest, but our collective future as well.”

Continuing, Poirier charged that, “environmental crime runs rampant as state environmental agencies are laid to waste. Every square mile of forest loss pushes the Amazon and the global climate closer to an irreversible tipping point.”

He added that in today’s vast levels of deforestation that Brazil is seeing is the fruition of Bolsonaro’s disastrous agenda.

Deforestation in Brazil

In the last 30 years, Brazil has invested a large sum of money on mining, constructing hydroelectric dams, agro-pastoral activities, settlement projects and infrastructure in Amazon region. This has led to massive deforestation in region.

Large swathes, the size of entire football fields, of the Amazon are being cut down—at an ever-alarming rate amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo: Physics.org)

The large and small rangers together with soybean plantation also contributed to deforestation. The deforestation of Amazon can affect the world climate.

Scientists have always believed that Amazon forest is the lung of the world with any environmental damage to the area having an adverse impact on the rest of the world.

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