By Peter McLaren-Kennedy •
Published: 12 Feb 2022 • 7:43
Despite more than 100 governments committing to deforestation in 2021 and mounting pressure on the Jair Bolsonaro Brasilian government, the Amazon reaches a record high deforestation in January 2022.
Satellite images show that the area cleared in January was five times larger than what was cleared in the previous year, the highest since records began in 2015 and in what is typically a slow month due to the higher rainfall.
Deforestation totalled 430 square kilometres in January, an area more than seven times the size of Manhattan, New York.
Despite everyone acknowledging the need to protect what are often referred to the lungs of the world, trees continue to be felled to allow for the planting of crops that supply global food companies.
The latest satellite data from Brasil’s space agency INPE again calls into question the Brazilian government’s commitment to protecting its huge rainforest, say environmentalists.
Cristiane Mazzetti of Greenpeace Brasil said: “The new data yet again exposes how the government’s actions contradict its green washing campaigns.”
But the problem is not just Brasil, Greenpeace are calling on supermarkets in the UK and elsewhere to drop suppliers who are involved in deforestation from their meat and dairy supply chains suppliers.
Brasil’s vast rainforest are vital to the health of the world as it absorbs huge amounts of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, acting as what’s known as a carbon sink. But the more trees cut down, the less the forest can soak up emissions.
Farming is not the only problem though, it is also home to communities who say they need to use the forest for mining to make a living.
But not only is the eradication of trees a problem for the world, it is also killing the wildlife and endangering the indigenous communities who live in the rainforest. Whilst they fight to protect the rainforest and their ways of life they are no match for the bulldozers and raging forest fires.
Mr Bolsonaro has weakened environmental protections for the region and argued that the government should exploit the area to reduce poverty in the country, with global demand for agricultural commodities such as beef and soya beans is fuelling some of these illegal clearances.
Perhaps most disconcerting is that environmentalists expect a new law to be passed that will legitimise and forgive land grabbing, with the Brasilian government saying that deforestation over the last 6 months is lower than it was during the prior year.
Bolsonaro was one of those leaders at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow last year, who promised to halt and reverse deforestation by the end of this decade. Political observers argue that despite this change in tone, the policies on the ground remain the same.
Pressure on the government is one of the ways to stop the record high deforestation seen in January, but environmentalists are also calling on consumers to do their bit to destroy demand for goods from this region in order to make further deforestation unviable.
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Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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