Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 8 (EFE).- Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon reached record-breaking levels in the first six months of 2022, with 3,987 square kilometers of forest destroyed, 10.6% more than the same period last year, the government reported Friday.
In June alone, 1,120 square kilometers of native vegetation were destroyed in Brazil’s tropical rainforest, 5.5% more than in 2021, which is also a record for the country.
These are the highest rates – both for the month of June and for the first six months of the year – registered since 2016 when records began, according to the deforestation alerts released by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE).
The data was collected by INPE satellites and gives a stark warning of the rampant deforestation taking place in the South American country, where the rainforest will continue to shrink for a fourth consecutive year.
Environmentalists blame the situation on a lack of checks and supervision by Jair Bolsonaro’s right-wing populist government, which has undermined climate protection efforts in favor of industrial exploitation of the Amazon’s natural resources, including protected indigenous reserves, where it is prohibited by law.
Activists have warned that ending illegal activities, such as mining, fishing and timber felling, is crucial to curbing the climate crisis.
Since the far-right leader came to power on January 1, 2019, deforestation rates have surged by 73% to reach 13,038 square kilometers in 2021.
In 2018, a year before Bolsonaro took office, 7,536 kilometers of the jungle were razed.
The planet’s largest tropical forest accounts for 72% of Brazil’s mining activity — which is mostly illegal — and 99% of the national timber trade — which is also illegally extracted from the Amazon.
“Illegal burnings and deforestation have accelerated over the last three years as a direct result of the Brazilian government’s anti-environmental agenda that encourages the destruction of the forest,” Cristiane Mazzetti, spokesperson for Greenpeace Brazil, said following the publication of INPE data.
“If this trend does not change we will approach the tipping point of no return in which the Amazon could fail as a rainforest,” Mazzetti warned. EFE