– A result of the policy that Brazil has pursued, says expert.
Deforestation in the Amazon has increased sharply in the last year, compared with the previous year, according to figures from the Brazilian Institute of Space Research (INPE).
INPE monitors the world’s largest rainforest from satellites and finds that 9,205 square kilometers have been felled and burned in the last twelve months, an area the size of Cyprus. This is an increase of 34 percent from the previous twelve-month period.
– Deforestation is a result of conscious policy, says the Rainforest Fund’s general secretary Øyvind Eggen.
– It is a predicted disaster, which we have warned about for a long time, he says.
Over the past decade, Norway has contributed as much as NOK 8.3 billion to slow down the harvest in the Amazon, as part of the work to reduce emissions of harmful greenhouse gases.
Payments to the fund were halted in August last year after the country’s right-wing populist president Jair Bolsonaro laid off the board of the fund and reopened for logging and mining in the rainforest.
Bolsonaro, who questions whether climate change is man-made, has also closed down the Ministry of the Environment’s secretariats with responsibility for climate and deforestation and has left several thousand positions in the environmental police (IBAMA) vacant.
Result of politics
Deforestation in the Amazon will continue unabated, Eggen fears.
– The fires in the Amazon, which surprised the whole world last year, will also come this year. This is a symptom of the deforestation that is happening, it is not natural disasters, but the result of the policy that Brazil has pursued, he says.
– It is a policy that puts the whole world in danger, because we are all dependent on the rainforest, says Eggen, who calls for increased international pressure on Bolsonaro.
INPE registered 6,804 fires in the Brazilian part of the Amazon in July, a sharp increase from the same month last year when 5,318 fires were registered.
The fires are often lit to clear land for grazing, mining and agriculture.
– What works best now is financial pressure, Eggen believes.
Must be pressed
– The international awareness of deforestation and fires in the Amazon has led the Brazilian authorities to be uneasy and has taken measures to limit the destruction. Although the measures are insufficient, the situation would have been much worse without the international involvement, he says.
– Now Norwegian companies must throw out all suppliers who do not commit to being completely deforestation-free. It will also send a clear signal to Brazil that the increasing deforestation is completely unacceptable, says Eggen.