Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon surge to record level in April

Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon reached new highs in April, nearly double the amount of forest cut in same month last year — the previous April record — frightening environmental campaigners.

According to statistics from the national space research organization Inpe, deforestation in the region totalled 1,012.5 sq km (390 sq miles) in the first 29 days of April. The agency will provide statistics for the final day of April next week, having gathered the monthly DETER-B data series since 2015/2016.

April is the third monthly high of the year, following new highs in January and February.

The destruction of the Brazilian Amazon touched a new high of 1,954 sq km (754 sq miles) in the first four months of this year, up 69 percent from the same time in 2021, clearing an area more than twice the size of New York City.

Since right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro assumed office in 2019, deforestation in the Amazon has increased dramatically, compromising environmental protection. More farming and mining in the Amazon, according to Bolsonaro, will relieve poverty in the region.

In a statement, Marcio Astrini, the leader of the Brazilian advocacy organization Climate Observatory, said, “The cause of this record has a first and last name: Jair Messias Bolsonaro.”

Bolsonaro’s office and the Ministry of the Environment did not reply to requests for comment right away.

Despite the fact that deforestation is already on the rise, Climate Observatory experts were taken aback by the high reading in April, when the muddy forest is more difficult for loggers to reach.

Because of the massive quantity of climate-warming carbon dioxide it absorbs, the Amazon is critical to preventing catastrophic climate change.

Deforestation is expected to continue rising in the run-up to the October presidential election, according to Ane Alencar, science director of the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM), as it has in the previous three election years, as officials, fearful of enraging voters, generally do less to enforce the law. Nonetheless, she labeled the recent spike in deforestation “absurd.”

“It appears that forest destruction has been institutionalized as something typical in the country, with record after record,” Alencar added.

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