Deforestation In Brazil’s Amazon Reaches A Decade Long High

Posted on December 7th 2018

Deforestation In Brazil’s Amazon Reaches A Decade Long High

Things aren’t looking great in Brazil with the election of a president who seems to care very little about the environment and new data which shows that the amount of deforestation that has taken place this year is at a decade long high. 7,900 square kilometres of rainforest was cleared between August 2018 and July 2018 according to Brazil’s environment ministry which used satellite imaging to monitor the level of deforestation.

Things are going to get worse

This is an increase of 13.7 per cent year on year and by far the largest amount of rainforest cleared since 2008. To put that into context, the amount of rainforest cleared over the time period is the equivalent of 987,000 football pitches. Rather unsparingly the news was met with much disappointment and angst by environmentalists who are warning that as Jair Bolsonaro assumes the role of president on New Year’s Day. A spokesperson for Greenpeace says that what is already a bad situation is likely to get worse.

Lack of government support

Brazil’s environment minister Edson Duarte says that it is important to mobilise all levels of society, government and industry in order to fight against illicit environmental activities. Unfortunately, it appears that Brazil’s government appears to be moving in the opposite direction. For a few years deforestation declined but began climbing again in 2013 after then president Dilma Rousseff approved an amnesty to those who cleared rainforest on small property. Since then deforestation has increased in four of the six years.

Politicians not helping

Ms Rousseff was replaced by Michel Temer who continued to pander to powerful agribusiness interests by providing further concessions such as legalising the transfer of ownership of land that had been squatted on in the Amazon which is a big driver for deforestation. Last year Mr Temer walked back attempts to further reduce protection to a national rainforests and protected areas after environmentalists protested and received support from super model Gisele Bundchen and pop star Alicia Keys during the Rock in Rio music festival.

We will reach a tipping point

It would seem the Brazil’s Congress no are no longer worried by deforestation and their apathy drives the process. Gangs engaged in deforestation seem to be confident that they will receive amnesty or that they will not receive any blow back. As greater amounts of the Amazon rainforest are cleared eventually, we will reach a tipping point, beyond which experts believe it will disappear. We will arrive at a point where so much deforestation has taken place, the forest is no longer a forest.

Eventually the Amazon will disappear

One non-profit organisation has calculated that during 2017, almost half of all greenhouse gas emissions from Brazil were the result of deforestation. Once Jair Bolsonaro assumes the presidency conservationists expect deforestation to worsen. Mr Bolsonaro frequently attacks protection agencies and has pledged to allow mining even in previously protected reserves where indigenous tribes reside. These are parts of the Amazon that have faced the least destruction.

Pandering to business

Mr Bolsonaro has even floated the idea of merging the environment ministry with the agriculture ministry and his lieutenants claim environmentalism is used by the world’s biggest economies as an instrument of domination. The president-elect only decided against withdrawing from the Paris Climate accord after agricultural producers warned that such a move would precipitate a boycott from European consumers.

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