Amazon rainforest: Deforestation in Brazil at six-year low

An agent of the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) inspects a tree extracted from the Amazon rainforest, in a sawmill during an operation to combat deforestation, in Placas, Para State, Brazil January 20, 2023.Reuters

The rate of deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon has dropped to its lowest in six years, space agency data suggests.

In July of this year, 500 sq km (193 sq miles) of rainforest were cleared in Brazil – 66% less than in July of last year, national space agency Inpe said.

The drop is a welcome boost for the government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who pledged to end deforestation by 2030 when he took office in January.

Rainforest destruction had surged under his predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro.

The far-right leader promoted mining in indigenous lands in the Amazon and forest clearances soared at the same time as resources to protect the forest were cut.

The Amazon rainforest is a crucial buffer in the global fight against climate change and 60% of it is located in Brazil.

Lula came to power promising to halt the damage done during Mr Bolsonaro’s four-year term and the figures released by the satellite agency show that things are improving.

Inpe said that the area of forest cut down in the first seven months of 2023 was smaller than that razed in the same period in 2022.

The drop is substantial and makes for an impressive turnaround just days before an Amazon summit with leaders from countries that share the world’s largest rainforest.

On Wednesday, Lula told the BBC that the meeting next week was something the whole world should watch.

He argued that all too often, promises made at global summits were not met, but he insisted that “where there’s a will, there’s a way”.

Data released by Inpe also shows that the authorities are going after those engaging in illegal logging.

The fines imposed in the first seven months of this year have topped $400m (£315m), a rise of almost 150%.

Reversing the damage done in the Amazon remains challenging but the deforestation drop announced by Inpe on Thursday will send a reassuring message to the world that progress has been made in a relatively short time.

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