The deforestation of the Amazon in January was the largest for the month in five years

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon in January 2020 was the largest for this month since 2016 and doubled that of the same period of 2019, which maintained the current trend of increasing the destruction of the largest tropical rainforest in the world, reported this Friday official sources.

According to estimates published today by the National Institute of Space Research (Inpe), in January this year the Brazilian Amazon lost 284.3 square kilometers of vegetation cover, which doubles the 136.2 square kilometers deforested in the same month of 2019 .

It is the largest jungle area destroyed in a month of January since 2016, when the Amazon lost 229 square kilometers of vegetation cover.

The data released this Friday correspond to a provisional projection of deforestation carried out by the Inpe based on a system of alerts of changes in the forest cover of the Amazon from the analysis of satellite images.

Inpe had already warned that the deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon had jumped 85% last year, from 4,219.3 square kilometers in 2018 to 9,165.6 square kilometers in 2019, its highest level also since 2016.

This growth was attributed by environmentalists to the measures of flexibility of the control and the anti-environmental rhetoric of the current Brazilian president, the ultra-rightist leader Jair Bolsonaro, who defends the economic exploitation of the Amazon and the end of the demarcation of new indigenous reserves.

According to non-governmental organizations, the rhetoric of the ultra-right-wing leader against the Amazon encourages illegal occupation of forests by clandestine invaders and loggers.

Despite criticism, the head of state presented this week for the consideration of Congress a bill to allow mining, oil exploitation and hydroelectric construction in indigenous reserves.

Deforestation, on the other hand, has been pointed out as one of the main causes of forest fires that destroyed part of the Amazon last year and caused shock throughout the world. Fires in the region increased 30% last year, from 68,345 in 2018 to 89,178 in 2019.

The images of the fires calcining huge areas of vegetation went around the world and caused a wave of indignation between the international community and the NGOs, which accused Bolsonaro of the disaster.

According to different analysts, high deforestation data in January indicate that attacks by loggers and farmers on the Amazon began earlier this year.

In January, the rates of forest devastation are generally reduced due to the rains of the period, which make it difficult to mobilize heavy machinery in jungle areas. The figures, on the other hand, tend to jump between July and September, a period of drought in the Amazon.

Last January, in an attempt to cope with criticism from environmentalists and some governments such as those in France and Norway over the increase in deforestation, Bolsonaro announced the creation of an interministerial "Amazon Council" that will have the mission of coordinating policies aimed at "protection, defense and sustainable development of the Amazon".

He also announced the creation of a National Environmental Force, similar to the National Public Security Force, dedicated to the protection of the Amazonian environment.


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