Deforestation in the Atlantic Forest from October 2017 to October 2018 went down 9.3 percent from the previous period (2016–2017). It is the smallest deforested area registered in this time series of the Atlantic Forest Atlas, put together by the SOS Mata Atlântica Foundation and the National Institute of Space Research (INPE), which has monitored the biome since 1985.
The report shows that, last year, 11,399 hectares (113 km²) were destroyed in areas of Atlantic Forest larger than three hectares, in the 17 states where the biome is found. Last year, deforestation totaled 12.562 hectares (125 km²). In 2015–2016, deforestation reached 29,075 hectares.
Furthermore, of the 17 states of the Atlantic Forest, nine stand at the zero deforestation level (1 km²). Three other states are nearly reaching this threshold: Mato Grosso do Sul (140 hectares), Rio Grande do Sul (171), and Goiás (289).
SOS Mata Atlântica Foundation Director Marcia Hirota said the positive result relates to monitoring and anti-deforestation efforts made by a number of actors in recent years, including state environmental agencies, environmental policies, prosecutors, and the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama).
“These data show how the efforts of society and the investment from the government in enforcing the Atlantic Forest Law through the preservation agencies, monitoring and control, bring about concrete results. Measures of this kind must continue,” she said. The Atlantic Forest is the only Brazilian biome with a specific law on it.
The Atlas also shows that there remain 16.2 million hectares of native Atlantic Forest, 12 percent of the original biome area. Of this amount, 80 percent is located in private areas.
Despite the positive figures, five states show unacceptable deforestation rates, according to the foundation: Minas Gerais (3,379 hectares), Paraná (2,049), Piauí (2,100), Bahia (1,985), and Santa Catarina (905).
Mario Mantovani, director for public policies with the foundation, argues that the changes proposed by the current government should be given great attention, as the progress made so far might be reverted. “We can’t accept environmental management to be undermined or any attempts to make legislation flexible,” he said.