Story at a glance

  • Amazon deforestation has spiked since Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro took office in 2019.
  • The increase in October comes after deforestation slowed from July through September.
  • Researchers at the Amazon Environmental Research Institute estimate a total of more than 14,000 square kilometers to be cleared by the end of the year, up from the 10,129 square kilometers deforested in 2019.

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon saw a sharp increase in October after months of rainy weather slowed down logging operations over the last four months, according to a report from Reuters

Preliminary data from Brazil’s space research agency Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE) found deforestation last month increased by 50 percent from the previous year to 836 square kilometers. The increase comes as destruction of the world’s largest rainforest eased from July through September due to the rainy season. 


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Deforestation was down 6 percent in the first 10 months of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. Nearly 7,900 square kilometers were destroyed through October this year, an area about 10 times the size of New York City. 

Amazon deforestation has spiked since Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro took office in 2019. The president, who has often been referred to as Brazil’s version of President Trump and is an admirer of the president, has weakened environmental enforcement and pushed for more mining and farming in the country. Deforestation hit a 10-year high between August 2018 and July 2019, with almost 10,000 square kilometers lost. 

In 2019, INPE reported a 40 percent increase in Amazon fires from the previous year. The fires are used to clear land for agricultural use after trees are cut down. 

INPE data shows fires increased 20 percent from January 2020 to November 2020 compared to 2019, the highest rate in a decade, according to Reuters. 

Brazil will release official deforestation numbers by the end of the year. Researchers at the Amazon Environmental Research Institute estimate a total of more than 14,000 square kilometers to be cleared by the end of the year, up from the 10,129 square kilometers deforested in 2019. 

Bolsonaro this week took a swipe at President-elect Joe Biden, who has said Brazil could face economic consequences if it fails to stop deforestation in the region. He warned of a “gunpowder” reaction if the U.S. were to impose sanctions on Brazil over Amazon deforestation.


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Published on Nov 13, 2020