Amazon has lost 9,205 km2 of deforestation last year in Brazil | WWF Brasil

Amazon has lost 9,205 km2 of deforestation last year in Brazil

07 agosto 2020    
Deforestation and fires destroy Amazon forest
© Araquém Alcântara/WWF-Brasil
By WWF-Brazil

São Paulo, August, 7th -- Deforestation alerts in the Legal Amazon from August 1st, 2019 to July 31, 2020 reached 9,205 km2, which is 33% more than last year's alerts. The data released today are from DETER, a system of the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe) that turns on an alert for inspection whenever a stretch of forest is felled.

Between 1 and 31 July, the alerts point to 1,64 km2 of destruction against 2,255 km2 in the same period last year. However, July 2019 was a record month of deforestation, the second highest rate since 2009.

Deter's alerts are a preview of the data that will be confirmed by the end of the year by another Inpe's system, Prodes, which instead records the official deforestation data in the Amazon and follows the calendar from August of one year to July of the following year.

For instance, between August 2018 and July 2019, Prodes showed that the Amazon lost 10,129 km², an increase of 34% compared to the previous year and the highest value since 2008, which confirms the escalation of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.

Deforestation in the Amazon must be banned for five years, says WWF Brazil, as part of a coalition of climate and indigenous NGOs. This is one of five emergency measures proposed to tackle the habitat destruction and resulting fires.

"It is a tragic record, which shows the complete lack of control over illegal activities in the region and indicates that the promise of the Bolsonaro government to dismantle socio-environmental policies, including mechanisms to combat deforestation, is being put into practice", points out Raul Valle, director of Socio-Environmental Justice of WWF-Brazil.

While the deforesters are acting fast, the inspection in the hands of the soldiers of Operation Brasil Verde 2 remains  stumbling. Even with the provisions of the Law and Order Guarantee (GLO) in full force, the government's action to combat illegal deforestation did not have the promised effect.

According to Valle, “deforestation is not going to decrease only with pyrotechnics and slogans. As long as the feeling of impunity remains high, it will continue to rise. People clearly see the contradiction between speech and practice. There is no point in mobilizing the military if, at the other end, the same government tries to amnesty invaders of public lands and punishes Ibama's inspectors, who are recognized for acting against environmental offenders ”.

Alerts point out that deforestation occurred in the nine states of the Legal Amazon. But it was worse in the states of Pará, Mato Grosso, Rondônia and Amazonas.

Among the municipalities in the Amazon that most deforested in the last 12 months are Altamira (Pará) with 717 km2, Sao Felix do Xingu (Pará) with 513km2, Porto Velho (Rondônia) with 403 km2 and Lábrea (Amazonas)with 380km2.

The uncontrolled increase in deforestation is already causing commercial problems to Brazil, devastating the country's image abroad. Foreign companies are already stopping to buy agricultural products and investors are withdrawing resources from companies that buy products from irregularly opened areas.

Internally, representatives of the largest commercial banks in the country went to the coordinator of the Council of the Amazon, the vice president of the Republic, Hamilton Mourão, demanding concrete measures to end deforestation. The matter is no longer dealt with by the Ministry of the Environment since the military took for themselves the responsibility for fighting deforestation.

This week, a group of 62 non-governmental organizations, including WWF-Brazil, made a list of five emergency measures to try to contain the problem. The document was sent to the National Congress and the European Parliament, investors and international authorities.

The letter calls for harsh actions against crime that has taken over the Amazon. Among them, the moratorium on deforestation in the Legal Amazon for at least five years, the hardening of penalties for environmental crimes and the immediate resumption of the Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Deforestation in the Legal Amazon (PPCDAm). The NGOs also demand the demarcation of indigenous and quilombola lands, and the creation, regularization and protection of Conservation Units. The restructuring of Ibama, ICMBio and Funai is part of the demand.

The document recalls that past governments had managed to reverse the deforestation trend in the Amazon with inspection actions, fines and seizures, while increasing agricultural production and exports. There was a clear message to combat environmental crime. And the government had credibility.
Deforestation and fires destroy Amazon forest
© Araquém Alcântara/WWF-Brasil Enlarge