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Vanishing Amazon

DESTRUCTION of the Amazon over the past year hit its highest level in more thana decade.
Satellite data from the Brazilian space agency gave the first official confirmation that deforestation has soared since Jair Bolsonaro became president in January on a promise to develop the Amazon. Between August 2018 and July 2019, there was a loss of nearly 10,000 square kilometres of forest, the worst since 2008. Logging and burning ofthe world’s greatest rainforest jumped by 29.5 percent in that period compared with the year before, to 9762 square kilometres.
Observers noted that this is the biggest annual increase in more than two decades. It also ends a period of relatively stable losses.The average between 2012 and 2018 was 6727 square kilometres.
Gilberto Camara, ex-director ofthe space agency, tweeted that the trend was “terrible” and showed a very strong upward swing.He predicted losses could reach12,000 square kilometres next year,if no actionis taken.
The figures don’t cover some of the worst deforestation detected between August and October. Although laws protecting the Amazon are still in place in Brazil, Bolsonaro’s rhetoric and a drop in enforcement has led him to be accused of encouraging logging operations (pictured above,in Para state) that clear and burn trees. More than180,000 fires have been recorded this year, resulting in global attention and pressure due to the sheer number of blazes across the Amazon.
Brazilian environment minister Ricardo Salles suggested that deforestation has been rising since 2012, well before Bolsonaro took over. “Yes, it was, but it was pretty stable,” says Erika Berenguer at the University of Oxford. “It wasn’t an increase like this. That’s a misrepresentation of reality.”

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