Nearly 8,000sq kms lost in the year to July amid alarm new president Jair Bolsonaro will make situation worse
'Brazil has released its worst annual deforestation figures in a decade amid fears that the situation might worsen when the avowedly anti-environmentalist president-elect Jair Bolsonaro takes power.
Between August 2017 and July 2018, 7,900sq kms were deforested, according to preliminary figures from the environment ministry based on satellite monitoring – a 13.7% rise on the previous year and the biggest area of forest cleared since 2008. The area is equivalent to 987,000 football pitches.
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The news was met by dismay from environmentalists who warned deforestation was likely to become more acute when Bolsonaro becomes president on 1 January.
“It is a lot of destroyed forest,” said Marcio Astrini, Greenpeace Brasil’s public policy coordinator. “The situation is very worrying… what is bad will get worse.”
The environment ministry said the increase came despite an increase in its budget and in operations carried out by its environment agency Ibama.
“We need to increase the mobilisation at all levels of government, of society, and of the productive sector to combat illicit environmental activities,” environment minister Edson Duarte said in a statement.
But the government appears to be heading in the other direction.
After falling for several years, deforestation began rising again in 2013, the year after leftist president Dilma Rousseff approved a new forest code which gave an amnesty to those deforesting on small properties. Deforestation has risen in four of the six years since then, including in 2016, the year Rousseff was impeached and replaced by her former vice-president Michel Temer.'
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