Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rose sharply last month
Brasilia, May 9 (IANS) Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest rose sharply last month as the country prepared to send troops to try to curb illegal logging and mining, the country's space research agency said.
On Friday, Brazil's National Institute of Space Research (Inpe) said that more than 405 sq km of the Amazon had been deforested last month compared with 248 sq km in April 2019, the BBC reported.
Between January and April, destruction of the forest by illegal loggers and ranchers rose 55 per cent, or a total of 1,202 sq km was wiped out, it said.
Deforestation in the region has soared since President Jair Bolsonaro took office last year, according to conservation groups.
He has argued that more farming and mining in protected areas of the forest were the only way to lift the region out of poverty.
Bolsonaro's environmental policies have been widely condemned but he has rejected the criticism, saying Brazil remains an example for conservation.
Conservation groups have also said that, since the coronavirus pandemic began, fewer government enforcement agents had been deployed, reports the BBC.
Brazil has been one of the worst-affected countries in South America, with 141,000 cases and nearly 10,000 deaths.
“The pandemic has not helped because there are apparently less agents out there and illegal loggers obviously don't care about the virus in remote areas of the Amazon,” the BBC quoted Paulo Barreto, senior researcher for the non-profit conservation group Imazon, as saying.
Environmental enforcement agency Ibama said it was scaling back field agents in other at-risk areas but not in the Amazon.
The Amazon rainforest is a vital carbon store that slows down the pace of global warming.