Amazon deforestation up by 190 per cent

Satellite data shows 402 square km of the forest—an area more than two times the area of Kolkata—was cleared in September alone

By Rajit Sengupta
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

Photo by Araquiem Alcantara, courtesy Imazon

There has been a 190 per cent increase in the rate of deforestation of the Amazon in the past two months, suggest satellite data. The reason for this steep rise in the deforestation has been poor policies that have helped loggers and farmers exploit the world’s largest forest, according to the Guardian.

Figures released by Imazon, a Brazilian non-profit research organisation, show that 402 square km—an area more than two times the area of Kolkata—was cleared in September.
Among the reasons for the setback is a shift in government priorities. Under President Dilma Rousseff, the government has put a lower priority on the environment and built alliances with powerful agribusiness groups. Roussef’s party, the PT (Workers Party), has been in power for 12 years and was credited for an unprecedented decline in Amazon deforestation—a decrease of 80 percent between 2004 and 2013. Now the situation has reversed, with the Brazilian economy lagging and deforestation rates back up.

The environment ministry has tried to catch major violators, but loggers have become more sophisticated by clearing areas of less than 25 hectares—below the range that can be detected by the Deter satellite, which the government had been using until recently. Most of the timber is laundered and sold to unwitting buyers in the UK, US, Europe and China, Greenpeace revealed this year.

“It’s time to realize that current investments in the Amazon do not promote development, and deforestation is impeding development. Based on this, you need to design and implement a regional development policy based on diversity of the territory,” Roberto Smeraldi, director of Friends of the Earth, told the Guardian.

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