(RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil)—Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon during the first half of 2022 broke all records, a measure of the increasing destruction taking place under the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro.
The satellite images of January through June showed a total of 4,000 km (1,500 miles) of forest destruction. This is more than any six-month period during the seven years of records keeping under current methods. New York City’s area is nearly four times larger.
The most remarkable thing about this statistic is the fact that it is occurring during rainy seasons. Deforestation is historically higher in the drier second half of the year when it is easier to access remote areas on the region’s unpaved roads.
Brazil’s October presidential elections will be held. These tend to reduce law enforcement in Amazonia. Bolsonaro will be running for another 4-year term. Currently he is trailing former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in polls.
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According to analysis by the IPAM (Brazilian nonprofit), the area that was destroyed during the first half 2022 is about 80% more than it was in 2018.
The IPAM analysis shows that around half of all the cutting occurred on public lands. Brazil has a pattern where criminals take over public land hoping that they will soon be allowed to grow or raise cattle.
Other illegal real estate and timber transactions plus lack of enforcement contribute to the increasing deforestation rates, according to Ane Alencar, IPAM’s science director.
“Those who control the Amazon don’t want it preserved,” Alencar told the Associated Press in a phone interview. “The standing forest has no value in today’s Amazon.”
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Amazonas was the most prolific state in tree cutting, surpassing both Para Grosso and Mato Grosso which have historically seen more tree losses. It is alarming, because Amazonas state is deep in Amazonas’ rainforest and remains pristine relative other Amazon regions.
Associated Press’s climate coverage and environmental reporting receives funding from several private foundations. See more about AP’s climate initiative here. All content remains the responsibility of AP.
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