Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 July 2019

Brazil's Amazon rainforest destruction sees dramatic rise under Jair Bolsonaro

President Bolsonaro has been criticised at home and abroad for his claims that environmental protection hinders economic growth

Brazil’s Amazon rainforest suffered large-scale deforestation in June, with President Jair Bolsonaro favouring development over conservation. Getty Images
Brazil’s Amazon rainforest suffered large-scale deforestation in June, with President Jair Bolsonaro favouring development over conservation. Getty Images

Brazil’s Amazon rainforest suffered 88 per cent more deforestation in June than during the same month last year.

It follows a similar rise in May, with the country’s right wing President Jair Bolsonaro favouring development over conservation.

He has been severely criticised at home and abroad for his claims that environmental protection hinders Brazil’s economic growth. Activists have accused him of operating an assault on rainforest conservation.

According to data from Brazil’s space agency, deforestation in the world’s largest tropical rainforest totalled 920 sq km, Reuters reported.

Satellite data released earlier this month revealed that an area of Amazon rainforest the size of a football pitch is being cleared every minute.

Government officials have unofficially said the government is encouraging deforestation.

The deforestation data for this year is preliminary, but indicates the official annual figure is on track to surpass last year’s and rose 34 per cent in May.

The data is measured for 12 months up until the end of July, with the annual figure based on more detailed imaging. The information currently available shows there has been a 15 per cent increase overall this year.

An investigation by the Guardian published last month found large numbers of cows grazing on land that was clearly demarcated by Brazil as embargoed under conservation efforts. The illegal farming reveals the extent to which the international demand for beef is driving deforestation.

Amazon rainforest is also cleared to grow soya beans.

Norway has expressed alarm over the recent data on accelerating destruction of the Amazon and concern for the future of a Brazilian rainforest protection fund it has given US$1.2 billion to in the last decade.

“We are worried about the recent developments in Brazil and reports on increased deforestation in the Amazon,” the Norwegian Climate and Environment Ministry said.

Approvals of pesticides and weedkillers have also spiked since Mr Bolsonaro came to power in January this year.

Between January and May, 169 new products were approved, 14 per cent of which contained chemicals prohibited in the EU and many that pose a health risk to humans and the environment, according to the Pesticide Action Network.

Three of them contain Atrazine, the Independent reported, which chemically castrates frogs and another contains Acephate, a chemical that can damage human sperm and has been banned in the EU for almost two decades.

Brazil is the world’s largest user of pesticides and foreign companies are thought to have registered hazardous products there that are illegal in their main operating countries.

Updated: July 11, 2019 03:57 PM

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