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Deforestation of the Amazon rainforest in September 2022

Photo: Michael Dantas / AFP

Deforestation in the Amazon has fallen by over 60 percent compared to July last year, according to Brazilian Environment Minister Marine Silva. She explained this to the British »Guardian«.

The government plans to publish the exact number in the next few days. The data on the deforested areas is measured by the Deter satellite warning system. According to preliminary reports, more than 1400 square kilometers of forest were cleared in July of the previous year. This year, it was only about 230 square kilometers. Experts are already comparing this development with the historic decline in deforestation during the first term of the socialist Luiz Inácio Lula. Between 2004 and 2012, deforestation fell to a historically low 4500 square kilometers per year, according to the state observatory Inpe – less than half of current levels.

Under ex-President Jair Bolsonaro, who ruled until the end of 2022, deforestation increased dramatically. In 2021 alone, more than 13,000 square kilometres – five times the area of Saarland – were lost, and in 2022 a good 11,500 square kilometres of rainforest were lost.

Lula wants to take decisive action against deforestation

Stopping the illegal deforestation of the Amazon rainforest is one of the most central campaign promises of the new Brazilian president. Just this week, he once again called on the international community to help protect the Amazon rainforest. "The world must help us to preserve and develop the Amazon rainforest," he said, referring to a meeting of the Organization of the Eight Amazon Countries next week in Belém, Brazil. It is the organization's first meeting since 2009 to debate rainforest conservation.

"We are aware of our responsibility, we have to convince the world that investing in the protected rainforest is profitable," Lula added. The president reiterated that his country will resolutely go ahead with deforestation.

Protection plan for the Amazon and confiscation of illegally used land

The Amazon rainforest stretches across nine countries, most of it is located in Brazil. It is one of the few remaining large primeval forests in the world and is home to more plant and animal species than any other place on earth. In addition, with its billions of trees, it is an important carbon sink.

In the first half of the year, between January and June, deforestation had already fallen by a third compared to the same period last year. In the Brazilian part of the Amazon region, about 2600 square kilometers of forest were destroyed during this time.

Lula presented a comprehensive protection plan for the Amazon in June. Among other things, it provides for the immediate confiscation of half of all illegally used land within protected areas and the designation of three million hectares of new protected areas by 2027.