Deforestation of the Amazon rainforest hits nearly three football fields per minute: report

Deforestation of the Amazon rainforest hits nearly three football fields per minute: report
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Deforestation of Brazil's Amazon has risen to a rate above three football fields per minute, according to the latest government data.

The Guardian reported that the rate of deforestation today is pushing the world's largest rainforest closer to a point beyond which it cannot recover.

According to the outlet, 1,345 square kilometers of the region have been cleared so far this month, higher than the previous monthly record under its current monitoring system. 

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Citing data from the Detecção de Desmatamento em Tempo Real (Real Time Deforestation Detection) satellite system, which began monitoring deforestation in 2015, The Guardian reported that the rainforest is on pace to lose a swath of land bigger than the size of Greater London at its current rate of deforestation. The Amazon saw a year-over-year rise in deforestation in May and June, according to the data.

Philip Fearnside, a professor at the National Institute of Amazonian Research in Brazil, emphasized the importance of “repeating these concerns” in a statement to the publication.

“We can’t see exactly where they are, but we know they are very close. It means we have to do things right away. Unfortunately that is not what is happening. There are people denying we even have a problem.”

The news comes as Brazilian deforestation continues to rise under President Jair Bolsonaro, who has called for the development of the Amazon region in his country.

Brazil has faced more pressure in recent months to enforce stricter environmental protections under provisions outlined in a trade deal reached earlier this year by the European Union and the Mercosur — an economic and political bloc that includes Brazil, Venezuela, Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay.

Under the free trade deal, the members are required to “implement measures to combat illegal logging and related trade, including, as appropriate, with respect to third countries."

Bolsonaro has been criticized for effectively putting Brazil's environmental agency under the oversight of its agricultural ministry, The Guardian notes. Brazil's agricultural ministry is headed by the leader of the farming lobby, who has dismissed climate science as being part of an international Marxist plot.

Bolsonaro's administration has criticized Ibama, the forest monitoring agency, for levying fines on illegal logging and land grabs. The government has also made efforts to weaken nature reserve protections and those for indigenous territories, the outlet reported.