According to satellite imagery released by Brazil’s National Space Research Institute (INPE), in August there was a sharp rise in deforestation
According to satellite imagery released by Brazil’s National Space Research Institute (INPE), in August there was a sharp rise in deforestation. This information was released but not highlighted until spotted by a Brazilian environmental website. Yet, according to the data, over 500 square kilometers of Amazon rainforest was cleared in August this year, which is an increase of 220% over last year’s August, the highest forest loss recorded since July 2009 when 836 square kilometers were cleared. The mapping system – a near-real time deforestation detection system, DETER showed that the deforestation was focused mainly are states of Pará (44%) and Mato Grosso (40%).
While spikes of deforestation have happened before, the important question now is whether the jump is sustained. Deforestation records for the 12 months ending July 31, 2012 are expected to be the lowest on record, but there are signs that the trend could reverse due to the Brazilian forest law revisions that are being pushed through Congress and which could lead to further relaxing restrictions and punishments against deforestation.
With Brazilian currency presently weakening, the demand for exports is rising as is the world price for soy, one main drivers of deforestation in areas like the Mato Grosso.
This news comes hot on the heels of a new and very comprehensive mapping of deforestation, protected areas and indigenous areas of the Amazon which shows that forest cover across the world’s largest rainforest declined by about six percent between 2000 and 2010. However, the map also demonstrates that recognition of protected areas and native lands across the eight Amazon countries has grown to cover nearly half of the world’s largest forest area.