Today’s Solutions: April 18, 2024

The rate of deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest decreased in January compared to the same month a year ago, satellite data revealed on Friday, marking the first monthly figures under President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

According to preliminary satellite data acquired by the government’s space research organization Inpe, 167 square kilometers (64 square miles) were cleared in the region last month, down 61 percent from January 2022, the worst month in the eight-year period.

Dropping deforestation

Brazilian environmental agents started their first anti-logging operations under Lula, who vowed to put an end to the rampant damage under his predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, in mid-January.

Deforestation in January was also lower than the 196 square kilometer (75.7 square mile) historical average for the month since 2016, however, January data can be unusually rough due to high clouds over the rainforest early in the year.

“It is positive to see such a relevant drop in January,” said WWF-Brasil conservation specialist Daniel Silva. “However, it is still too early to talk about a trend reversal, as part of this drop may be related to greater cloud cover.”

He pointed out that the data for January constituted the first decline from the same time a year earlier in the preceding five months.

US and Brazil protecting the Amazon

Following an exclusive report by Reuters in early February, which stated that the United States was considering making its first contribution to a multilateral fund aimed at fighting deforestation in the Amazon, these new figures have been released.

After being put on hold since 2019 by the previous administration of Bolsonaro, the Brazilian-administered Amazon Fund was revived on the first day that Environment Minister Marina Silva assumed office last month. The fund is primarily financed by Germany and Norway.

After Bolsonaro cut funds and employees at key agencies, experts and staff at the environmental agency Ibama have warned that it may take years for Lula to deliver on conservation commitments, despite the auspicious start the year has had.

In the midst of a humanitarian catastrophe that is believed to be caused by illegal gold miners, the government of Brazil is also waging war against squatter mining on Yanomami property in the Amazon, which is the country’s largest Indigenous reservation.


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