Amazon deforestation takes out 8 000 km² in one year

Brazil’s Amazon rainforest has lost nearly 8 000 square kilometers between August 2015 and July 2016, and its deforestation rate has increased by 29% in 2016 compared to 2015, according to the country’s environmental research institute INPE.

The size of the loss, which is more than five times the area of London, is the greatest reported forest loss since 2008, reports said.

Now, environmentalists are very concerned about impacts on biodiversity and climate protection in this world treasure, which is home to 10% of the world’s known species. Deforestation causes loss of biodiversity and increased greenhouse gas emissions. Brazil is among the largest greenhouse gas emitters in the world.

Amazon’s deforestation appears to be unstoppable over the past four years, buoyed by the 2010 request by agricultural and industrial lobbies to reform Brazil’s forest code in favour of their interests, an expert explained.

“Since the new code was enforced in 2012, the deforestation rate has doubled again,” Roberto Maldonado, South America officer for WWF Germany, told DW.

Environmentalists said any efforts to combat deforestation in Amazon have been unsuccessful due to the lack of government support. Brazil is currently embroiled in a serious political instability following the demise of President Dilma Rousseff for alleged corruption and abuse of power.

Maldonado now believes that political events are clearly linked to the deforestation rates.

“We cannot say with certitude, but there are indications showing the trend will continue, considering the political and economical situation of the country,” he said, adding that 30% of Amazon deforestation was caused by a lack of government will to fight illegal logging.

Moreover, he highlighted how natural events related to climate change could also contribute to increasing deforestation. “Drought, for instance, makes it easier to open forests [to logging].”

Rainforests represent 31% of the earth’s land area, and at least 1.6 billion people rely on benefits forests offer, including food, fresh water, clothing, traditional medicine and shelter, the WWF says.

(with the assistance of DW)

Photo: a view of some of the deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest.

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