Amazon deforestation has almost doubled this year
The destruction of the world’s largest rainforest has grown for the fifth month in a row, revealed new government data. So far this year, an area twice the size of Greater London has been destroyed – an estimated 3,032 square miles – as loggers grow increasingly emboldened under right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Brazil’s leader has pushed for the Amazon to be developed and threatens to scale back the powers of environmental agency Ibama, said environmentalists on Friday. Tasso Azevedo, coordinator for the deforestation mapping initiative MapBiomas, has blamed the alarming figures on Bolsonaro. He told Reuters: ‘Deforestation is continuing at a pace that is double that of years past. ‘I think this is because of the messages the president continues to send.’
Bolsonaro and environment minister, Ricardo Salles, blamed ‘previous governments’ for the rise in deforestation. They said budget cuts had been made to agencies such as Ibama before they took office on January 1. The human-caused devastation is all the more troubling given the region was struck by the worst forest-fires this decade, which torched through the Amazon in August. Brazil’s response to the fires provoked global outcry and left many world leaders questioning why the South American nation did not do more to protect the rainforest.
Scientists believe fires are linked to deforestation, with people often clearing timber and then setting the remains alight to clear land for ranching or farming. The rate of deforestation is expected to recede with the onset of the wet season, which traditionally begins in October. Paulo Barreto, a researcher affiliated with the non-governmental organisation Imazon said: ‘The big question now is what will be done to prevent this next year.’