ILast year, significantly more area was cleared in the Brazilian rainforest than in the previous year. As the state climate institute Inpe announced on Tuesday, 9166 square kilometers of forest were cut down in 2019. In 2018 it was 4946 square kilometers. This corresponds to an increase of 85 percent. In December alone, 183 percent more forest was felled than in the same month last year. Minister of the Environment Ricardo Salles attributed the long-emerging increase to "illegal economy" last year.
The current figures are preliminary data from Inpes satellite surveillance. According to the experts, the deeper analysis of the data to be made later is likely to deliver an even higher value. This is because while the "Real Time" monitoring only records larger clear cuts, the more thorough analysis also detects smaller clearings.
In the past few months, the government of President Jair Bolsonaro Inpe has criticized the large number of times. After measuring 278 percent growth in July and 222 percent in August compared to the previous year, Bolsonaro dismissed the director of the institute, Ricardo Galvao. Galvao published excessive numbers to harm Bolsonaro, it said. The numbers later turned out to be correct.
Ministry of Environment wants to establish institute in the Amazon
Bolsonaro responded to the increasing amount of deforestation and the devastating forest fires in the Amazon in August by sending thousands of soldiers to the region. As a result, the fires subsided and less forest was cut down again. After the soldiers were withdrawn at the end of October, the extent of deforestation increased again.
Environmentalists accuse Bolsonaro of accepting forest destruction in order to open up new areas for agriculture. He had been criticized by politicians and environmentalists, particularly from France, Germany and Norway.
Environment Minister Salles announced last week that it would establish an Amazon Secretariat in Manaus, the capital of the State of Amazonas. This would allow the Ministry of Environment to anchor itself more strongly in the region concerned and in the “heart of the Amazon”.