Amazon Deforestation Drops 64% in Brazil in April
Preliminary data shows that deforestation in the Amazon rainforest within Brazil has seen a 64% decline compared to deforestation in April 2022. The findings represent a major shift under Brazil’s newly elected President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva, who campaigned on promises to end deforestation in the country.
The data could signal hopes of reversing an alarming report from earlier this year, when the rainforest experienced record-high deforestation in February. In January 2023, Lula’s first month of presidency, Amazon deforestation declined 61% year over year, as reported by Reuters.
Now, despite a lack of staffing and funding brought about by former far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil is seeing less deforestation for April and for the year as a whole so far. April’s data, from INPE (National Institute for Space Research), shows deforestation down about 64% to 321 square kilometers compared to an average of 898 square kilometers. For the year, deforestation has declined 38%, World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-Brasil reported.
While the numbers are hopeful, experts are concerned about upcoming data for the summer months, when deforestation traditionally peaks.
“We received the April numbers as a positive sign, but unfortunately we still cannot speak of a downward trend in deforestation in the Amazon. The numbers are at a very high level and the dry season, which is favorable to deforestation, has not yet started,” Mariana Napolitano, conservation manager at WWF-Brasil, said in a statement. “Other initiatives such as incentives for the green economy, the creation of protected areas and the demarcation of Indigenous lands, such as those that took place recently, are necessary.”
Lula plans to end deforestation by the end of the decade and recently received more than $100 million from Britain for Amazon rainforest conservation efforts, Reuters reported. Earlier this month, Lula also established six Indigenous reserves, where mining is prohibited and logging and commercial agricultural practices are restricted. These reserves contain around 620,000 hectares (1.5 million acres) of Amazon rainforest for protection.
Continued conservation efforts and enforcements could help continue a downward trend. According to WWF-Brasil, deforestation began climbing rapidly in 2012 and nearly tripled over 10 years. Deforestation surpassed 10,000 square kilometers from 2019 to 2021, when Bolsonaro was president.
Lula was previously president from 2004 to 2011. During this time, Brazil’s Amazon deforestation declined nearly 75%. The president has pledged to bring deforestation to zero by 2030; currently, Brazil’s annual Amazon deforestation rate remains high at around 11,594 square kilometers.
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