Figures from the Brazilian Environment Ministry reveal that deforestation in the Amazon has reached a level unmatched for ten years. In just one year, the equivalent of “a million football pitches” have been chopped down.
Deforestation in Brazil increased by 13.72% between August 2017 and July 2018, according to official figures recently released by the Brazilian Environment Ministry. The are of deforestation during this period is estimated to be about 7 900 km2 which is the equivalent of 5.2 times the city of Sao Paulo, or “one million football fields“, according to Greenpeace (987 000 football fields, more precisely).
“It is going to get worse”
“A lot of the forest has been destroyed,” said Marcio Astrini, Greenpeace’s public policy coordinator in Brazil. The situation is very worrying … And it is going to get worse. Brazil’s Environment Minister Edson Duarte notes the need “to increase the mobilization of all levels of government, society and productive sector to fight against illegal environmental activities“. But the Brazilian government does not seem to be on the same page.
After having declined for several years, there is now more deforested areas of the Amazon than since 2013. At that time, President Dilma Rousseff was in power. Relinquished in 2016, his former Vice President Michel Temer then over. Unfortunately, the new President has continued to make laws in favour of the agri-food sector. Environmentalists now fear that the situation will worsen even more with the inauguration of new President-elect Jair Bolsonaro in January (supported by agribusiness lobbies).
In early September, Jair Bolsonaro threatened to leave the Climate Agreement if he was elected. A threat that came in response to the implementation of a transnational ecological corridor project called “Triple A”. This project involved the opening of an environmental protection zone from the Andes to the Atlantic Ocean, crossing the Amazon. The project has been held back as, as Brazil has said it would maintain it’s signature in the Paris Climate Agreement, but under certain conditions. He stated in a recent press conference in Rio de Janeiro that “If it is written to me in black and white that there is no question of the “Triple A ” project, no more than independence of any Indian land, I will maintain (Brazil in) the Paris Agreement.”
Amazon almost at the point of no return
The Climate Observatory (Observatório doClima), a non-profit network dedicated to climate change, reported last year that 46% of Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions were due to deforestation. A new study published last February in the journal Science Advances also revealed that 17% of the Amazon rainforest had disappeared in the last 50 years. Some experts say that past 20%, the Amazon rainforest could reach the point of no return.
Intensive farming continues to be the main reason for extreme deforestation of the rainforest. Whole sections of forests in the Amazon are felled either for grazing cattle, or to grow soy to largely feed these animals.