Deforestation in the Amazon in 2020 already the highest in 12 years

This year, the devastation is 70% larger than the average recorded between 2009 and 2018

Translated by: Ítalo Piva

Brasil de Fato | São Paulo |
Children running from wildfires in the Amazon. No more. - @guajarasonia

Deforestation in the Amazon this year reached 11,088 km2, the largest recorded in the last 12 years. There was an increase of 9.5% in relation to 2019. The data was compiled by the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe), a federal agency that monitors deforestation in Brazilian ecosystems via satellite.

With the 2020 increase, the devastation in the second year of Jair Bolsonaro’s government is 70% higher than the average recorded between 2009 and 2018. To meet the goal of the National Policy on Climate Change (PNMC), the country would need to have a deforestation ceiling of 3,925 km2 this year. The registered total is 180% higher.

Analysis by the Climate Observatory indicates that the current scenario is the result of a set of factors that involve weakening inspection mechanisms, the dismantling of environmental agencies and cutting investments in preservation. In a press release, the entity lists the suspension of the collection of fines by the Brazilian Environmental and Natural Resources Institute (Ibama), the freezing of the Amazon Fund, the harassment of agents, among other actions by the Federal Government that hinder the protection of the ecosystem.

"Criminal neglect by not spending money that already exists for oversight and the implementation environmental policies, defamation of those who produce technical and scientific knowledge, and an improvised attempt at militarizing the forest. All of this has been ongoing for the past 22 months," says the document. The organization warns: "Brazil will end up being the only major emitter of greenhouse gases to see an increase in emissions, during a year when the global economy stopped due to the pandemic."

There is also the perception that the recent figures aid in "a successful project to annihilate the capacity of the Brazilian State and inspection bodies to take care of our forests, and fight crime in the Amazon. It is the price of the"let them pass through" philosophy put forth by Environment Minister Ricardo Salles. Marcio Astrini, executive secretary of the Climate Observatory, concludes: "Every time deforestation goes up, we keep wondering what went wrong in our attempts to control environmental crime. This time, we know the surge happened because the government got exactly what it wanted”.

“This well executed project of destruction will cost Brazil dearly. We are losing commercial agreements, literally turning our soft power into dust and increasing our international isolation, at a time when the world is entering a critical realignment in relation to combating the climate crisis”, he continues. “This government works like a machine to produce embarrassing news for the country, especially in the environmental area. Bolsonaro is the biggest saboteur of Brazil's image”, he added.

When announcing this year's figures, Vice President Hamilton Mourão, who chairs the National Council for the Amazon, said that "the efforts being made are beginning to bear fruit." In his opinion, as expectations for this year were higher, the numbers represent the "beginning of a downward trend". More than 30% of deforestation, according to Mourão, occurs illegally on public land.

Edited by: Rebeca Cavalcante