The deforestation in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil reached a record in the first seven months of the year, according to preliminary data from the Government of President Jair Bolsonaro this Friday, just before the traditional peak of the annual burning season.
Government satellite data shows that between January and July, 5,474 square kilometers were cleared in the region, 7.3% more than in the same period last year, which is equivalent to an area seven times larger than that of the city of New York. This is the largest deforestation for the period of a series of data that goes back to 2015.
In July alone, deforestation totaled 1,487 square kilometers, roughly in line with the same month in 2021. Environmentalists and experts blame Bolsonaro for rolling back environmental protections, opening space for loggers and ranchers to illegally clear more than The Amazon.
“The figures are shocking, but not surprising,” he said. Marcio Astrini, head of the local environmental group Climate Observatoryadding that “out of control” deforestation in the Amazon was a consequence of government policies reducing protection, Reuters reported.
Bolsonaro’s office forwarded a request for comment to the Environment Ministry, which did not immediately respond to the query. The latest figures are released as Brazil approaches the worst of the annual burning season in the Amazon, the season when ranchers and farmers typically set fire to deforested areas early in the year.
The data of the National Institute for Space Research of Brazil (INPE) show that fires in the region tend to increase in August and September. Last month, the Brazilian environmental authority granted a first permit that will allow a major highway to be paved in the middle of the jungle, in a move that threatens to increase deforestation.