According to the latest data, the Amazon rainforest in Brazil is being cleared at an alarming rate. The numbers suggest that deforestation has increased in the past few years, and things are projected to get even worse under the rule of the new president Jair Bolsonaro.
Experts warn that such rapid deforestation could destabilize the entire rainforest since the trees are a vital part of the ecosystem.
Philip Fearnside, a professor at Brazil’s National Institute of Amazonian Research, called the current situation a “tipping point.”
The destruction of the Amazon rain forest in Brazil has increased rapidly since the nation’s new far-right president took over and his government scaled back efforts to fight illegal logging, ranching and mining. 🤬 https://t.co/bO5Hhnr7qt pic.twitter.com/4Spb7Gr7Q6
— Juan Carlos Pedreira (@juancpedreira) July 28, 2019
“It’s very important to keep repeating these concerns. There are a number of tipping points which are not far away. We can’t see exactly where they are, but we know they are very close. It means we have to do things right away. Unfortunately, that is not what is happening. There are people denying we even have a problem,” Fearnside said, according to the Guardian.
The numbers come from the National Institute for Space Research, which president Bolsonaro accused of spreading lies. Bolsonaro said that the ministry of science and technology should have checked over the numbers and shown them to him before they were made public so he was not “caught with his pants down,” when they were released.
The rainforest in Brazil was already in danger when president Bolsonaro came into power. The region’s rainforest saw an 80% reduction between 2006 and 2012. In 2018, deforestation levels rose to the highest in a decade, with a 13% increase that year alone. Researchers are expecting 2019 to be even worse.
Brazil’s part of the Amazon has lost more than 1,330 square miles of forest cover since Jair Bolsonaro became president in January, according to a government agency that tracks deforestation. Last month, 80% more forest was lost compared to June 2018. https://t.co/b7X1VMkytF pic.twitter.com/8z7FY55FgA
— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 28, 2019
Carlos Rittl, the executive secretary of the Climate Observatory, an NGO formed by a coalition of environmental groups, pointed to the policies of the new president.
“Unfortunately, it is absurd, but it should not catch anyone by surprise. President Jair Bolsonaro and minister Ricardo Salles are dismantling our socio-environmental policies,” said Rittl.
Rittl said that new leadership has stopped enforcing environmental protections, and have allowed logging corporations to clear the rainforest with impunity.
This month, the leader of an Amazonian tribe was killed under suspicious circumstances, just before the area was invaded by gold miners.
Brazil: Indigenous peoples across the Amazon are at risk of this violence “The killing comes as miners & loggers are making increasingly bold & defiant incursions into indigenous territories, with the explicit encouragement of Brazil’s far-right president” https://t.co/qcUmn21EYL
— AMAZON WATCH (@AmazonWatch) July 28, 2019
The policies of Brazil’s government were also blamed for encouraging such attacks, which have also been growing more frequent.
The new administration has been very clear that they don’t have any interest in protecting the rainforest, and that they see the indigenous population as something that is holding them back from economic progress.