Deforestation in Amazon up 21.9% in 12 months

The Brazilian government called the press to talk measures

Published in 19/11/2021 - 12:27 By Pedro Rafael Vilela - Brasília

Brazil’s Environment Minister Joaquim Leite and Minister of Justice and Public Security Anderson Torres held a press conference to discuss government actions in the fight against deforestation in the Amazon Forest. The presser was called after the National Space Research Institute (INPE) unveiled the deforestation rate in the area known as the Brazilian Legal Amazon, which saw a growth of 21.97 percent in 12 months.

Deforestation in the Amazon, INPE reported, reached 13,235 km² between August 2020 and July 2021. The number represents a surge of 21.97 percent from the previous time span, when a total area of 10,851 km² was deforested. The forest devastated in this last period corresponds to eight times the size of the municipality of São Paulo.

According to Leite, these figures do not reflect recent efforts of the National Force in tackling environmental crime. “The numbers disclosed today are numbers that had an increase that do not exactly reflect the work in the last months. We’re more present now. And the National Force, along with Ibama and ICMBio, have worked in 23 municipality in a permanent fashion.”

He pledged rigor in surveillance and described INPE’s figures as “unacceptable.” “We want to make clear that the federal government will work firmly against any environmental crime in the Amazon,” Minister Joaquim Leite declared.

The country’s minister of Justice and Public Security underscored he has been devising a new operational plan to step up monitoring efforts. “We are re-adjusting our forces and we’ll move up to these areas facing deforestation. The Brazilian state will go up there with environmental force.”

The environment minister was questioned by journalists as to why INPE’s report, dated October 27, was not made public until Thursday (Nov. 28), after the United Nations Climate Chance Conference (COP26), held in Glasgow, Scotland, from November 1 through 12.

“INPE might have delayed the release of these data for reviewing as a precaution, but I have not heard from INPE on this. What I do know is that it was disclosed today and we’re here making clear that this number is unacceptable and we’ll go directly against it,” Leite said.

Os ministros da Justiça e Segurança Pública, Anderson Torres e do Meio Ambiente, Joaquim Álvaro Pereira Leite, fazem  pronunciamento sobre as ações de combate ao desmatamento ilegal
Brazil’s Minister of Justice and Public Security Anderson Torres and Environment Minister Joaquim Leite held a press conference to discuss government actions in the fight against deforestation in the Amazon Forest- Fabio Rodrigues-Pozzebom/Agência Brasil

Data

The estimated deforestation is calculated as part of the Project for the Satellite Monitoring of Deforestation in the Legal Amazon (PRODES), which uses Landsat satellite imaging or similar imaging to record and measure the deforested areas larger than 6.26 hectares.

The project, INPE declared, counts as deforestation the complete removal of primary forest canopy through clear-cutting, regardless of the future use of these areas. The estimate of the 2021 rate was based on the analysis of 106 priority scenes of all states making up the Legal Amazon. This is the fourth consecutive increase in deforestation in the Amazon, the longest streak since gauging began, in 1988.

The Legal Amazon corresponds to 59 percent of the Brazilian territory and encompasses eight states in their entirety—Acre, Amapá, Amazonas, Mato Grosso, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima, and Tocantins, as well as portions of Maranhão state, adding up to 5 million km². The region is home to 56 percent of Brazil’s indigenous population.

The state of Pará is reported to be responsible or 39.72 percent of the deforestation in the period surveyed, with over 5.2 thousand km² of forest destroyed. Ranking states by the size of the affected area, next come Amazonas (2.3 thousand km²), Mato Grosso (2.2 km²), and Rondônia (1.6 thousand km²). Altogether, these four states account for 87.2 percent of the estimated deforestation in the Legal Amazon according to INPE.

Criticism

In a note, the Climate Observatory, a Brazilian network made up of 70 entities, criticized the government’s actions to preserve the forest. “This result stems from a persistent effort—planned and continuous—in Jair Bolsonaro’s administration to destroy environmental protection policies,” said Marcio Astrini, executive secretary at the Observatory.

“Contrary to the propaganda taken to COP26 in Glasgow by the government and its allies in agribusiness and industry, this is the real Brazil, with devastated land, violence against traditional peoples, and organized crime unrestrained in the Amazon,” he added.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Claudia Felczak / Nira Foster

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