Deforestation continues to rise in the Brazilian Amazon

  • Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon continues its upward trajectory according to data released today by the country’s national space research institute INPE.
  • Monthly deforestation alert data showed that 1,444 square kilometers of forest in Brazil’s “Legal Amazon” — or Amazonia — were cleared during the month of September, bringing the area chopped down through the first nine months of the year to 7,604 square kilometers, an 86 percent increase over the same period last year.
  • INPE put the area burned in the Amazon year to date at 59,826 square kilometers, a 97 percent increase in the area burned relative to last year.
  • Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is on pace to be the highest in over a decade.

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon continues its upward trajectory according to data released today by the country’s national space research institute INPE.

Monthly deforestation alert data showed that 1,444 square kilometers of forest in Brazil’s “Legal Amazon” — or Amazonia — were cleared during the month of September, bringing the area chopped down through the first nine months of the year to 7,604 square kilometers, an 86 percent increase over the same period last year. The area deforested is 127 times the size of Manhattan.

INPE put the area burned in the Amazon year to date at 59,826 square kilometers, an area nearly the size of the state of West Virginia. That represents a 97 percent increase in the area burned relative to last year, although the number of fire hotspots recorded in the Amazon is only 30 percent higher.

Much of the area that burned is pasture, scrub, and logged-over forest, rather than primary rainforest.

The monthly alert data puts deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon on pace to be the highest in over a decade. Brazil will release official figures for the “deforestation year”, which is measured from August 1 through July 31 using higher resolution satellite data, next month.

Last year 7,900 square kilometers of forest in the Brazilian Amazon were cleared.

Rising destruction despite global attention

The new figures from INPE show that deforestation in Brazil remains unusually high despite recent global outcry over the issue.

Attention peaked in late August when smoke from fires in the Amazon blackened the skies over Sao Pauloprompting widespread condemnation of anti-environment policies being advanced by the Bolsonaro administration. Activists talked about boycotting Brazilian agricultural products, while the E.U. threatened to suspend a long-negotiated trade deal.

Initially defiant, blaming environmentalists for the fires and rejecting offers of firefighting aid, the Bolsonaro administration eventually mobilized the army to combat the fires. But critics say the administration has not shelved plans to encourage forest conversion and weaken environmental protections in Earth’s largest rainforest.

Between 2004 and 2012, annual deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon dropped by more than 80 percent, turning Brazil into a widely celebrated example of a country successfully curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

The recent trend, coupled with Bolsonaro’s policies, has spurred concern among scientists and environmentalists that Brazil may be losing ground on its historical progress in reducing deforestation in the Amazon, possibly pushing the ecosystem toward an ecological tipping point, where vast areas of rainforest could shift toward a drier, savanna-like ecosystem. Scientists don’t know where that threshold lies, but some of the more pessimistic projections suggest that should deforestation return to the levels seen in the early 2000s, we could see significant temperature and precipitation impacts at a regional scale before 2030.

CNES / Airbus image on Google Earth showing rainforest and deforestation at 9°28'8.18"S, 58°16'44.67"W.
CNES / Airbus image on Google Earth showing rainforest and deforestation at 9°28’8.18″S, 58°16’44.67″W.
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Original Article: https://news.mongabay.com/2019/10/deforestation-continues-to-rise-in-the-brazilian-amazon/

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