Deforestation in the Amazon reached 1654 km² in July, significantly less than in July 2019, but the area deforested since the start of the year remains slightly higher than last year, according to official data released on Friday August 7. .
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In July 2019, deforestation had reached an exceptional level, with 2,255 km² deforested in total. Since the start of the year, 4,731 km² have been deforested, against 4,701 km² from January to July 2019, according to data collected by satellite by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE).
The difference is much greater when we take into account the cumulative figures for the last 12 months: 9,205 km², against 6,844 km² from August 2018 to July 2019, an increase of 34.5%. Vice-President Hamilton Mourao, who launched a military operation against illegal deforestation in May, welcomed the July data, citing a " reversal of the trend ", thanks, according to him, to the efforts of the government, in power since January 2019.
Too early to talk about a new trend
But environmentalists say it's too early to talk about a new trend and that while the July 2019 record has not been broken, the numbers remain alarming. “ We cannot celebrate the fact that this record was not broken. This is positive, but you have to understand that 1,600 km² deforested is a lot, ”Ane Alencar, scientific director of the Amazon Institute for Environmental Research (IPAM), told AFP. The head of this NGO is also concerned about forest fires, the number of outbreaks spotted by INPE satellites having increased by 28% in July in the Amazon compared to the same month of 2019.
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These fires are the direct consequence of deforestation, with farmers slashing and burning deforested areas to graze livestock. " The fires start in June and start to intensify in August, peaking in September, " continues Ms. Alencar. The resurgence of forest fires in the Amazon last year caused a stir around the world, but far-right President Jair Bolsonaro swept aside the criticism, shouting a " colonialist " plot against Brazil's sovereignty.
" These figures are not due to an incompetence of the Bolsonaro government in the fight against deforestation, but they are indeed part of its policy of actively promoting the destruction of the forest ", denounced in a press release the Climate Observatory, a collective of NGOs fighting against global warming.