Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon fell 1.5% last month from July 2021 but remains near record highs, prompting fresh warnings about the rampant destruction of the world’s largest rainforest.
Satellite monitoring revealed 1,476 square kilometers of destroyed forest cover, according to figures released Friday by the national space agency’s DETER monitoring program. This figure is slightly lower than the 1,498 square kilometers detected in July last year but remains the fifth worst month since the start of the program in 2015.
The other four worst months on record are July 2019, 2020 and 2021 and August 2019, all with over 1,400 square kilometers of cut forest, and all under President Jair Bolsonaro. Critics accuse the far-right leader, who is running for president in October, of fueling deforestation by failing to provide the means to enforce environmental laws and by supporting the agri-food and mining industries.
Since Jair Bolsonaro took office in January 2019, average annual deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has increased by 75% compared to the previous decade, despite growing warnings about the health of the rainforest, a massive “carbon sink “seen as a vital resource in the race to contain climate change.
“It is alarming to see such high rates of deforestation at a time when we are already experiencing the effects of climate change: droughts, extreme temperatures, floods“said Edegar de Oliveira of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Brazil.”Bolsonaro administration enters final months with record environmental destruction“, he added in a press release sent to AFP.
July typically marks the start of the most intense season for deforestation in the Amazon, when dry weather allows for more clearcuts. Deforestation is also highest in the Cerrado, a tropical savannah south of the Amazon. In the past 12 months, 5,426 square kilometers have been destroyed, an increase of 11.5% over the previous year, according to INPE.