Amazon deforestation is accelerating and could lead to “a point of no return”

Aerial view of a burnt-out area in the Amazon rainforest, August 24, 2019.

Could this finally be good news from the Brazilian Amazon? August deforestation figures show a 34% decrease compared to the same month in 2019. “Only” 1,358.78 km2 of primary forest were cleared, against 1,714 km2 in August 2019.

We are still in a very worrying situation, tempers the researcher Claudio Almeida, who coordinates the Amazon deforestation control program within the National Institute of Space Research (INPE) in Brazil. In reality, the figures for August 2019 were alarming, and those for 2020 are also very bad if you compare with previous years. ” A record of 278 km2 for August 2017 or even 528 km2 in August 2018, before Jair Bolsonaro came to power.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also “This reserve has lost its raison d’être”: in the Amazon, the shattered dream of a sustainable forest

No reason to be happy, therefore, especially as scientists predict a significant increase in deforestation compared to 2019 during the final count, in December. “The deforestation detected until August by the Deter system is already 2,400 km higher2 to that of 2019. The maps show unprecedented deforestation in indigenous territories hitherto untouched and an appropriation of public lands, details the specialist. We deforest to then claim the land, legalize it and, eventually, resell it. “

In December 2019, the executive had rightly presented to Congress an ordinance to regularize illegally occupied public lands. The project has never been voted on and is no longer valid since May 20, but a new ordinance will soon be presented.

In addition to the signs of deforestation, there are those of forest degradation, when clear cutting of trees is not straightforward but sufficient to endanger the survival and restoration of species. Still according to the Deter system, over the past five years, the degradation of the Amazon rainforest has been three times greater than that of deforestation: between 2015 and 2019, it reached 97,247 km2, against 30,600 km2 deforestation.

However, the INPE does not add up the two areas in an attempt to represent the real state of the Amazon: “Degraded areas can enter the following year in the calculation of deforestation or, on the contrary, be left like this and recover the following years. We consider that of the approximately 4 million square kilometers that form the Brazilian Amazon, 800,000 km2 are now deforested, ie nearly 20% of its area ”, explains Claudio Almeida.

You have 64.1% of this article to read. The rest is for subscribers only.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here