An aerial view of smoke from a fire in the Brazilian Amazon. EFE/Joedson Alves/File

Deforestation in Amazonia down 7 pct, Brazil says

Brasilia, Aug 3 (EFE).- Brazil’s portion of Amazonia suffered the destruction of 7,952 sq km (3,070 sq mi) of vegetation from the start of August 2022 until the end of July 2023, representing a 7 percent decline in deforestation from the preceding 12 months, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s government said Thursday.

A truck transports wood from illegally felled Amazonian trees near Apui, Brazil. EFE/Fernando Bizerra/File

The vegetation loss was the smallest over a 12-month period since July 2020, mid-way through the first year of the administration of right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, who effectively halted enforcement of environmental regulations.

Use of the August-July interval is based on seasonal rainfall patterns in Amazonia.

Measured from Jan. 1, 2023, when Lula took office, the drop in deforestation was 42.5 percent. The last four months of Bolsonaro’s term witnessed a 54 percent rise in Amazon deforestation.

Steps taken by Lula’s administration have “unquestionably changed the curve,” Environment Ministry executive secretary Joao Paulo Capobianco told a press conference in Brasilia.

And though July is typically “the worst month” for deforestation in Amazonia because of negligible precipitation, deforestation fell last month by a record 66 percent, he said.

Lula, who previously governed Brazil from 2003-2011, has made the fight against deforestation in Amazonia a priority, cracking down on wildcat miners, illegal loggers, and agri-business operations that remove trees to expand cattle-ranching and soy plantations.

Deforestation exploded under Bolsonaro and nearly 20,000 sq km of vegetation was erased in 2022 alone.

Next week, Lula will host the leaders of the seven other Amazonian nations for talks aimed at forging a unified position ahead of the Nov. 30-Dec. 12 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in the United Arab Emirates. EFE mat/dr