2020 could not have gone any worse for the Amazon forest in Brazil and Bolivia. The previous year was already hard when the forest was mostly on fire, but it has gone even worse with deforestation, says Rômulo Batista who is a spokesman for Greenpeace Brazil.
“The trend is for destruction to increase.” Temporary data from the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe) already shows an increase in the case of Brazil. In January alone, 284 square kilometres of rainforest were lost in the Brazilian Amazon region due to deforestation. This is more than twice as much as in the same period last year1.
Is the destruction in 2020 even worse than before?
2019 was the first year of right-wing Jair Bolsonaro as Brazilian president. “We have a government that is more or less against the environment,” says Batista. “It has fulfilled all its promises and gone beyond them.” President Bolsonaro had already announced during the election campaign that he would release Amazonia for economic exploitation. Furthermore, he would reduce penalties for violations, encouraging loggers, gold miners and others. He would encourage deforestation and slash-and-burn in protected areas. Even though on the 16th July this year he banned fires in the region, the forest continues to burn2.
For the first time since 2009, more than 10,000 square kilometres of forest have been cleared. This is 30 percent more than it was in 20183. There have also been 30,000 fires, three times as many as in August 2018 and the highest number since 2010. The fires in Bolivia destroyed almost 20,000 square kilometres of forest. According to experts, most fires in both countries happen in order to make land available for agriculture and livestock farming. A small part remains unused and starts a process of recovery. But, it is doubtful that it will reach the state of the primary forest, says Batista: “The rainforest is millions of years old and biodiversity is infinite.
Forests play a significant role in climate change, and saving our forests is definitely a step in the right direction.
- Amazon deforestation for January hits record, https://phys.org/news/2020-02-amazon-deforestation-january.html
- New images of illegal fires in the Amazon show destruction advances,
- Calculating Deforestation Figures for the Amazon, https://rainforests.mongabay.com/amazon/deforestation_calculations.html