Rio de Janeiro, Jul 6 (EFE).- Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon fell by 33.6 percent in the first half of 2023, according to figures released Thursday by that nation’s Environment Ministry.
That period of time coincides with the first six months of the new administration of center-left President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who has vowed to bring a complete halt to the destruction of the world’s largest tropical rainforest by 2030.
The Brazilian Amazon lost 2,649 square kilometers (1,023 square miles) of forest cover between January and June, down sharply from the 3,988 sq. km lost in the first six months of 2022.
The deforested area also was the lowest for that January-June period since the first half of 2019 (2,447 sq. km), the first six months of the presidency of rightist Jair Bolsonaro, a proponent of unrestricted Amazon development.
According to data from National Institute for Space Research (INPE) satellites, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon fell from 1,120 sq. km in June 2022 to 661 sq. km in June 2023, a reduction of 41 percent.
Deputy Environment Minister Joao Paulo Capobianco said in a press conference that the decline was particularly significant considering Amazon devastation is typically most severe during months of drought (June to October) when it is easier for illegal loggers to operate.
Environment Minister Marina Silva, a globally recognized environmentalist, attributed the results to different factors, including the reorganization of all monitoring agencies and Lula’s commitment to combating deforestation and climate change.
She also said her team is able to lean on the experience it acquired in 2003, when Lula began the first of three four-year terms as head of state and also implemented an ambitious program to preserve the Amazon.
“The reality is very different to that of 20 years ago because there’s a new form of interaction between deforestation and organized crime,” Silva said. “But we had in our favor (at the start of the year) the knowledge acquired in 2003, when we had to reinvent the wheel to combat the devastation and it took us a year to see results.”
Silva acknowledged that deforestation rose in the year’s first six months in the Brazilian Cerrado, South America’s largest woodland savanna and the country’s second-largest ecosystem.
But she said her team has already identified the problems and is in position to turn things around.
“In the second half of the year, we’re going to commit to a plan to prevent and control deforestation in the Cerrado, and we want to achieve the same results as in the Amazon,” she said.
The Cerrado lost 4,608 sq. km of forest cover over the year’s first six months, up 21 percent from the same period of 2022, according to INPE figures.
Even so, whereas the devastation soared by 83 percent between May 2022 and May 2023, the amount of woodland savanna lost in June of this year was 14.6 percent lower than in the same month of 2022. EFE