deforestation accelerates during the epidemic

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has reached a new peak in the first four months of the year, according to data released Friday May 8 by the National Space Research Institute of Brazil (INPE), a scientific research center that monitors the forest by satellite images. An indicator that is already worrying since normally it is not the time to cut trees because of the rainy season, Erika Berenguer, forest ecologist at the University of Oxford, told AFP.

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From January to the end of April, it is no less than 1,200 km2 of forest, equivalent to about half of Luxembourg, which have disappeared. An increase of 55% compared to the same period last year, the highest since 2015, the date of the first monthly observations.

An almost anti-ecological policy

These figures raise the question of how Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil, a climate-skeptic favorable to the decommissioning of protected areas for their ecological quality and their transformation into mines and intensive agricultural crops, manages most of the world’s tropical forest .

Last year, Jair Bolsonaro’s first year in power, deforestation climbed 85% in the Brazilian Amazon, destroying 10,123 km2 (the surface of Lebanon). The destruction had created a worldwide stir for the future of the jungle, which was considered vital in the fight against climate change. Devastation due to record forest fires that ravaged the Amazon during the dry season from May to October, in addition to illegal logging and mining, and farming practices on protected land.

→ INFOGRAPHY. Focus on deforestation in the Amazon

This week, Jair Bolsonaro authorized the army to deploy to the Amazon to fight fires and deforestation from May 11. A measure he had already taken last year after being subjected to scathing criticism from the international community for having minimized these fires. However, this recourse to the army relates only to the fires, and does not deal with the illegal farmers and stockbreeders who cut down the trees then burn them, deplores Erika Berenguer.

What’s more, everyone burns the forest in Brazil, both big and small owners, because it is the easiest and cheapest way to clean the land before sowing or planting crops (especially exported soybeans in Europe to feed intensive breeding pigs) or to put the land in meadows to raise beef cattle which, too, will be exported to the world “, Explains Michel Le Tourneau (CNRS-University of Arizona), geographer specializing in the Amazon rainforest

With the new government, the environmental agency IBAMA, the ” forest policeman “As Michel Le Tourneau says, had to face reductions in staff and budget. And last month, the government sacked the top environmental law enforcement official, who had shortly before authorized a police raid on illegal mines in front of television cameras.

Faced with this disaster, environmentalists believe that it would be better to support more environmental protection programs.

In Manaus, the only intensive care unit in the region, is saturated

The coronavirus epidemic, which in Brazil has officially claimed the lives of nearly 10,000 people among some 150,000 people infected, further complicates matters. One of the worst affected is the state of Amazonas, the largest of Brazil’s northwestern states bordering Venezuela and Colombia, largely covered by nature. With his only intensive care unit based in Manaus, he was overwhelmed by the epidemic.

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