According to satellite imagery data released Friday, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon remained high despite a slight decline.
Brazil's DETER satellite monitoring system of the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) showed that 1,476 km2 of vegetation were cleared in July in the Amazon rainforest, 25 times the area of Manhattan.
These figures represent a slight reduction from the 1,498 km2 detected in the same period of 2021, despite which July remained the fifth worst month since the beginning of the measurements, in 2015.
The other four worst months were July 2019, 2020 and 2021, and August 2019: all above 1,400 km2 and all under rightwing President Jair Bolsonaro, it was reported.
The head of state has allegedly encouraged deforestation by weakening environmental control agencies and backing in his speech agribusiness and mining sectors accused of driving illegal logging.
Since Bolsonaro took office in 2019, the average annual deforestation in the Amazon increased by 75% compared to the previous decade, despite constant warnings from specialists about the importance of preserving this rainforest, a huge carbon sink considered vital to curb climate change.
It is worrying to see such high deforestation rates at a time when we are already feeling the effects of climate change, with droughts, extreme temperatures, or floods, said Edegar de Oliveira, director of Conservation for the environmentalist NGO WWF Brazil.
The government reaches its last months with records of environmental destruction, ahead of the October elections in which Bolsonaro will seek re-election, but is bound for defeat, according to all polls.
The INPE only processed data up to July 29. The month marks the beginning of the season in which deforestation usually intensifies, favored by dry weather. The Cerrado, the Brazilian tropical savannah, also recorded high levels of deforestation, according to INPE. In the last 12 months up to July, 5,426 km2 were devastated in this biome, an increase of 11.5% compared to last year.