As Amazon deforestation hits an alarming milestone, Brazil promises a policy shift

Preliminary government satellite data shows that a record 904sq km of the forests (349sq miles) were cleared in the region in October, highest figures for a month since 2015.

RH Desk
November 12

Amidst Brazil’s political transition, the country’s critical Amazon forests registered a new milestone of deforestation, triggering environmentalists to warn of a “frantic race towards devastation.”

Preliminary government satellite data collected by space research agency Inpe released on Friday showed that approximately 904sq km of the forests (349sq miles) were cleared in the region in October. This is a record deforestation figure for the month since tracking began in 2015.

The October’s data takes the total number of areas cleared off forests this year in Amazon to 9,494sq km (3,666sq miles), another depressing record.

While the figures are worrying, the country’s incoming President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who has promised to bolster environmental safeguards and pledged to protect the Amazon, is expected to take a different line than his predecessor.

The Amazon covers 6.7 million square kilometres of South America of which nearly 60% falls in Brazil. Considered to be critical to fight climate change, the rainforest had seen increased deforestation under the administration of former President Jair Bolsonaro. Annual statistics released last year showed deforestation had already surged to a 15-year high under Bolsonaro.

According to environmental bodies, deforestation in Amazon in the first six months of 2022 was three times higher than in the first half of 2017. Since last year, deforestation has accelerated at a consistent speed.

During his victory speech in October, Lula had said Brazil was “ready to resume its leading role in the fight against the climate crisis and to “fight for zero deforestation.”

The damning figures come amidst the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Egypt which Lula will be attending next week.

“I will travel to Egypt on Monday. I will have more conversations with world leaders in a single day than Bolsonaro did in four years,” Lula said on Thursday.

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