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Amazon: Brazil records five-year low in deforestation

November 10, 2023

President Lula has promised to end deforestation in the Amazon by 2030. But challenges posed by illegal mining, drug traffickers and land grabs remain.

A cleared section of Amazon rainforest with cows grazing
Brazil saw Amazon deforestation skyrocket under former President Jair BolsonaroImage: Eraldo Peres/AP Photo/picture alliance

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has fallen to a five-year low, officials said on Thursday.

In the 12 months through July, 9,001 square kilometers (3,475.31 square miles) of Amazon jungle was destroyed, according to Brazilian space research agency INPE.

This is the smallest area cleared since 2018 and represents a 22.3% decrease from 2022.

"It's an impressive result and seals Brazil's return to the climate agenda," said Marcio Astrini, head of advocacy group Climate Observatory.

The announcement comes after President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva promised to rein in the level of deforestation under his predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro.

Brazil's deforestation targets under Lula

Lula's government has committed to achieving zero deforestation by 2030.

However, Environment Minister Marina Silva said on Thursday that this remains an uphill battle due to "a mix of drug- and arms trafficking, land grabs, and illegal mining and fishing" that all contribute to the destruction of the Amazon.

Protecting Brazil's Amazon rainforest, one tree at a time

Some environmentalists also noted that the current rate of deforestation is twice as high as the modern-day low in 2012.

"This is still a high rate" of deforestation, said Mariana Napolitano, of the World Wildlife Fund Brazil office.

"The Amazon is suffering from a very high level of degradation, which makes the forest more susceptible to fires."

zc/lo (Reuters, AFP)