Deforestation of Brazil‘s Amazon rainforest was worse than previously reported in 2019, revised government data showed on Tuesday, during the first year of President Jair Bolsonaro, who is eager to develop the forest crucial to curbing global warming.
Brazil‘s space research agency INPE recorded 10,129 square km (3,911 square miles) of deforestation for its benchmark annual period from August 2018 to July 2019. That is an area about the size of Lebanon and a 34.4 percent rise from the same period a year earlier.
The revision is higher than the INPE’s initial report of 9,762sq km (3,769sq miles) of forest destroyed during that period, an increase of 29.5 percent.
The 2019 data remains the highest level of deforestation seen in Brazil‘s Amazon since 2008, a level it had already hit prior to the revision.
The INPE generally revises the data every year for accuracy as a standard practice.
Environmental advocates and scientific researchers blame the policies of right-wing Bolsonaro for emboldening illegal loggers, ranchers and land speculators to clear the forest.
Bolsonaro has urged the development of the Amazon, including protected areas, as a way to lift the region’s poor residents out of poverty.