The news comes as Amazon region nations prepare for next week’s summit, which will seek to draw up a common policy to halt deforestation and protect the world’s largest rainforest.
Amazon rainforest deforestation rates last month were at least 60% lower compared to July 2022, Brazil’s environment minister Marina Silva has told the Guardian.
While official figures are expected to be released in the coming days, preliminary data suggests that the improvement from last year “could be the best since 2005.”
Deforestation in the Amazon – the world’s largest rainforest and home to about three million animal and plant species – fell by 33.6% in the first six months of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s term compared to last year, with a loss of approximately 2,649 square kilometres between January and June – an area still greater than the size of Luxembourg. Under Lula’s predecessor, far-right Jair Bolsonaro, the rainforest shrank by 3,988 square kilometers in those six months.
“The effort of reversing the curve of growth has been reached. That is a fact: we reversed the curve; deforestation isn’t increasing,” Environment Ministry’s executive secretary Joao Paulo Capobianco said last month.
Under Bolsonaro’s presidency, deforestation in the Amazon rainforest rose sharply. The president, described on several occasions as a climate denier, has wreaked havoc on the Amazon basin. As a result of incentivising farmers to slash and burn the Amazon reversing environmental legislation, and discarding land reserved for environmental tribes, deforestation in the Amazon had surged by 75% under Bolsonaro’s leadership from 2019 to 2022 compared to the average of the previous decade. Since Lula took office, however, the situation has improved.
Brazil’s government has taken important steps to slow down deforestation rates, including cracking down on illegal miners and recognising more indigenous territories. Additionally, Lula committed to allocate three million hectares (7.4 million acres) of protected land by 2027 and strengthen the country’s environmental monitoring network. Most importantly, he pledged to end deforestation in the Amazon by 2030.
The encouraging data from last month comes as Brazil prepares to host next week’s Amazon summit, designed to strengthen regional cooperation among the eight member countries of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) – Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Guyana and Suriname – to protect the rainforest. The meeting will focus on forest conservation and security along the borders. Additionally, private businesses will be asked to contribute to the reforestation of 30 million hectares (74 million acres) of degraded forest, Reuters reported.
“I have high expectations for this summit. For the first time we are going to have a common policy for the Amazon, for preservation, security, borders,” Lula said on Wednesday.
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