Deforestation in Brazil's portion of the Amazon rainforest soared more than 88% in June compared with the same month a year ago, the second consecutive month of rising forest destruction under new President Jair Bolsonaro, who has called for the development of the region.
According to data from Brazil's space research agency, deforestation in the world's largest tropical rainforest totaled 920 sq km.
The data showing an 88.4% deforestation increase is preliminary but indicates the official annual figure, based on more detailed imaging and measured for the 12 months to the end of July, is well on track to surpass last year's figure.
In the first 11 months, deforestation already has reached 4,565 sq km, a 15% increase over the same period in the previous year. That is an area larger than the US state of Rhode Island.
Environmentalists have warned that Bolsonaro's strong remarks calling for the development of the Amazon and criticising the country's environmental enforcement agency Ibama for handing out too many fines would embolden loggers and ranchers seeking to profit from deforestation.
Bolsonaro has aggravated the situation. ... He has made a strong rhetorical attack, said Paulo Barreto, a researcher at Brazilian nongovernment organization Imazon.
The new data coincides with more pressure on the government to protect the environment under the terms of the free trade deal between the European Union and Mercosur agreed to last week. Brazil will take action if concerns about an increase in deforestation are confirmed, the agriculture minister said on Wednesday.
The rainy season through April appeared to have held off a spike in deforestation that subsequently came with the dry season starting in May.
Deforestation rose 34% in May compared with the same month a year ago.
We are adopting all measures to combat illegal deforestation, Environment Minister Ricardo Salles was quoted. This week we had 17 enforcement teams simultaneously in all of the Amazon from Ibama.
While the final text of the EU-Mercosur deal has not been released, an outline from the EU states the agreement includes a provision that the Paris Agreement on climate change must be effectively implemented along with other commitments to fight deforestation.
French President Emmanuel Macron had warned that he would not sign off on the deal if Brazil leaves the Paris accord. Bolsonaro met Macron at last week’s G20 summit and reassured him Brazil was in the Paris Agreement to stay.