Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon surges to 12-year high

Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest surged to a 12-year high in 2020, official government data showed on Monday, with destruction soaring since President Jair Bolsonaro took office and weakened environmental enforcement.

In 2020, destruction of the world’s largest rainforest rose 9.5 percent from a year earlier to 11,088sq km (2.7 million acres), according to data from Brazil’s national space research agency Inpe, seven times the size of London.

Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest surged to a 12-year high in 2020, official government data showed on Monday, with destruction soaring since President Jair Bolsonaro took office and weakened environmental enforcement.

In 2020, destruction of the world’s largest rainforest rose 9.5 percent from a year earlier to 11,088sq km (2.7 million acres), according to data from Brazil’s national space research agency Inpe, seven times the size of London.

The official annual measure, known as PRODES, is taken by comparing satellite images from the end of July 2020 with those from the beginning of August 2019. These dates are chosen to coincide with the Amazon’s dry season, when there is less cloud cover to interfere with the calculations.

 

The Amazon is the world’s largest rainforest and its protection is crucial to stopping catastrophic climate change because of the vast amount of carbon dioxide it absorbs.

The latest annual destruction is a substantial increase from the 7,536sq km that were deforested in 2018, the year before Bolsonaro took office.

While environmentalists blamed the government for the rise, federal officials hailed the figures as a sign of progress in fighting deforestation, as the increase was far lower than the 34 percent increase recorded in 2019.

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