The area deforested in Brazil’s Amazon reached a 15-year high after a 22 per cent jump from the prior year, according to official data published on Thursday.
The National Institute for Space Research’s Prodes monitoring system showed the Brazilian Amazon lost 13,235 square kilometres of rainforest in the 12-month reference period from August 2020 to July 2021.
That’s the most since 2006.
The 15-year high flies in the face of Bolsonaro government’s recent attempts to shore up its environmental credibility, having made
overtures to the administration of US President Joe Biden and moved forward its commitment to end illegal deforestation at the UN climate summit in Glasgow this month.
Before Jair Bolsonaro’s term began in January 2019, the Brazilian Amazon hadn’t recorded a single year with more than 10,000 square kilometres of deforestation in over a decade. Between 2009 and 2018, the average was 6,500 square kilometres. Since then, the annual average leapt to 11,405 square kilometres.
“It is a shame. It is a crime,” Márcio Astrini, executive secretary of the Climate Observatory, a network of environmental non-profit groups, said. “We are seeing the Amazon rainforest being destroyed by a government which made environmental destruction its public policy.”
Bolsonaro took office with promises to develop the Amazon.