A new report has shown that Brazil’s Amazon experienced its worst levels of deforestation in 15 years in 2022 when it lost the equivalent of nearly 3,000 soccer fields a day.
Released on Wednesday by the Brazilian non-profit research institute Imazon which promotes conservation and sustainable development in the Amazon, the report found that the region registered a fifth consecutive record in felling.
According to the report, deforestation reached 10,573 square kilometers (4,082 square miles) between January and December 2022, while overall deforestation reached 35,193 km² (13,588 square miles) from 2019-2022.
Bianca Santos, a researcher at Imazon, said she hopes the administration of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will prioritize the protection of the Amazon.
Amid the high levels of deforestation, Santos underscored the need for effective measures to combat the ecological degradation, including “the demarcation of indigenous lands, the restructuring of inspection bodies and the incentive to generate income with the standing forest.”
“There was an unbridled race to deforest, while the gate was open to cattle, land speculation, illegal mining and deforestation in indigenous lands and conservation units and this shows the size of the new government’s challenge,” said Carlos Souza, a coordinator at Imazon.
Bolsonaro’s environmental policies have been widely criticized by environmentalists and defenders of Indigenous peoples and their territorial rights as they insist he has rolled back environmental protections that have led to ecological destruction as illegal loggers, miners and ranchers have cleared large swathes of land in the Amazon.
At the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP27 in Egypt in 2022, Lula vowed to reverse Bolsonaro’s environmental policies, saying there can be “no climate security for the world without a protected Amazon.”
He also pledged to safeguard the region’s biomass, fortify inspection bodies and monitoring systems and to clamp down on ecological crimes.
In early January, Lula also fulfilled a campaign pledge, setting up an Indigenous ministry, and named two new ministers to safeguard the country’s environmental policy and reverse Bolsonaro’s policies, although experts have warned that Lula will face tough challenges to reverse Bolsonaro’s environmental policies.
Story was adapted from AA.