Saving the world: 2023 sees Amazon deforestation down 40% so far

Aerial view of deforestation of Amazon rainforest. Forest trees destroyed to open land for commercial area. Concept of environment, ecology, climate change, global warming, carbon emissions. Amazonas.
Image © Paralaxis | iStock

We may be seeing change occur in the battle against Amazon deforestation, with government data reporting a 40% reduction in land clearing when compared with the same period in 2022

Brazillian President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, has promised a crackdown on deforestation and to protect Indigenous people from the illegal enterprises driving its rise.

“I am here to say to all of you that Brazil is back in the world [..] you all know that we are going to undertake a big fight against deforestation.”

we are going to undertake a big fight against deforestation

 One step forward, two steps back: Continued work to protect against Amazon deforestation

As of April 2023, Amazon deforestation was down 68% from the year before, with 127 square miles of forest having been destroyed. This figure is below the historic April average of 176 square miles, according to a Reuters report.

Typically, deforestation in the Amazon normally peaks during the summer due to it being the dry season – so researchers are unsure as to whether the downward trend will continue as the year passes by.

“The numbers are at a very high level, and the dry season, which is favourable to deforestation, has not yet started”, explained Mariana Napolitano of WWF-Brazil in a statement.

Fighting against forest destruction

Amazon deforestation from above
Image © luoman | iStock

Reports have shown that in Brazil’s dry Cerrado region, land clearing is trending up.

Officials have recorded a spike in deforestation in the Brazilian savanna this year.

The loss comes “in a context of continuous and increasing destruction that has been happening for a long time,” said Edegar de Oliveira of WWF-Brazil. “This devastation has already consumed half of the biome.”

This devastation has already consumed half of the biome

Lula has said it is urgent for Brazil to show the world that his government is not only talking about protecting the environment but that it is on its way to fulfil a commitment to end deforestation by 2030.

The Cerrado and continued worries for our environment

According to the WWF, in the Cerrado, the situation is more alarming than most.

According to the DETER system from the INPE (National Institute for Space Research), in the first four months of 2023, 2,133 km2 were devastated. This is a value 17% higher than that recorded in the same period last year and 48% higher than the historical average.

In April alone, this increase was 31% compared to April 2022, going from 541 to 709 km², an area about twice as large as that deforested in the Legal Amazon.

Why is there continued Amazon deforestation in this area?

The explosion in deforestation is linked to several actions taken by the previous administration:

  • The weakening of the framework for environmental protection in Brazil
  • The deregulation actions that reduced the rights of indigenous peoples concerning the demarcation of their lands
  • The government’s speech, which was totally permissive to illegalities related to land use
  • The successive budget cuts and replacement of leadership positions in government bodies that contribute to monitoring actions, management of natural resources and the fight against deforestation.

The WWF is calling for change, but will it happen and when?


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