Brazil’s Amazon deforestation ‘surges to 12-year high’

Brazil's Amazon deforestation 'surges to 12-year high'
Scientists say the Amazon has suffered losses at an accelerated rate since Jair Bolsonaro took office. Source: Reuters
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Daily US Times: Brazil’s space agency (Inpe) reports that deforestation of the Amazon rainforest in the country has surged to its highest level since 2008.

From August 2019 to July 2020, a total of 11,088 sq km of rainforest were destroyed. The figure 9.5% increase from the previous year.

The Amazon rainforest is a vital carbon store that slows down the pace of global warming.

Scientists say the forest has suffered losses at an accelerated rate since Jair Bolsonaro took office in January 2019.

The Brazilian president has encouraged agriculture and mining activities in the world’s largest rainforest.

The Amazon is home to about three million species of animals and plants and one million indigenous people.

The latest data marked a major increase from the 7,536 sq km announced by Inpe in 2018 – the year before president Bolsonaro took office.

The new statistics are preliminary, with the official figure set to be released early next year.

Brazil had set a goal of slowing the pace of deforestation in the Amazon to 3,900 sq km annually by 2020.

In addition to encouraging development in the rainforest, Brazil’s president has also cut funding to federal agencies that have the power to fine and arrest farmers and loggers breaking environmental law.

President Bolsonaro has previously clashed with the agency over its deforestation data. Last year, he accused Inpe of smearing Brazil’s reputation.

Brazilian non-governmental organisation Climate Observatory said in a statement that the figures “reflect the result of a successful initiative to annihilate the capacity of the Brazilian State and the inspection bodies to take care of our forests and fight crime in the Amazon.”

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