Brazil registers record deforestation in the Amazon in the last 15 years

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon increased by almost 22% between August 2020 and July 2021, marking a record in the last 15 years, according to official data, a trend that the government of Jair Bolsonaro promises to reverse with more “forceful” actions.

Logging in the largest tropical forest on the planet totaled 13,235 km2 in the 2020-2021 period, the highest value since 2005-2006 (14,286 km2), according to records from the Prodes deforestation surveillance system, of the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (Inpe ).

It is the third annual increase under the mandate of President Bolsonaro, who seeks to combat international criticism that blames him for promoting these increases with policies that weakened control in the biome and his discourse in favor of extractive activities in protected areas.

The figures represent “a challenge for us and we will have to be more forceful in relation to environmental crimes. We will certainly expand our performance ”in the region, admitted the Minister of the Environment, Joaquim Leite, at a press conference in Brasilia shortly after the document was released.

He stated, however, that the data “does not exactly reflect the performance of recent months.”

The government claims to have intensified its actions to combat illegal deforestation with a greater presence of troops on the ground in the last 90 days, focused on the 23 municipalities with the highest incidence of environmental crimes.

Deforestation is in particular attributed to illegal mining and ranching activities.

“To those who still insist on these environmental crimes, (we warn them) that the Brazilian state will enter the Amazon with full force”, For his part, the Minister of Justice and Public Security, Anderson Torres, assured.

Bolsonaro assumed power in January 2019 with a strong anti-environmentalist discourse and is accused by oenegés, the indigenous movement and opponents of weakening environmental control mechanisms.

Between August 2018 and July 2019, the deforested area in the Amazon was 10,129 km2, an increase of 34% over the previous rolling year, according to data from the Prodes system.

In the following period (2019-2020), 10,851 km2 were lost, an increase of 7%, despite the dispatch of costly military operations to the jungle to control illegal activities during the most intense periods of deforestation and fires in the Amazon.

“The result is the result of a persistent, planned and continuous effort to destroy environmental protection policies” under the Bolsonaro government, Marcio Astrini, executive secretary of the Observatório do Clima network, which brings together the main NGOs, said in a statement. and environmental institutes operating in Brazil, including WWF and Greenpeace.

The Observatory accused the government of hiding the data until after COP26, since the document released this Thursday by Inpe, linked to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations, has the date “October 27, 2021” written on it.

“The government already had the deforestation data in hand when the Scotland climate conference happened and deliberately omitted it,” the NGO said, something the government denies.

“The information I have is that this was disclosed today,” Minister Leite replied.

Among the goals announced at the last UN conference on climate change in Glasgow, Scotland, Brazil advanced two years, from 2030 to 2028, the limit to eliminate illegal deforestation in its territory, which is home to 60% of the Amazon.

“We will certainly be more forceful to reverse the numbers (of deforestation) and meet the goal that was announced at the conference,” concluded Leite.