LatinNews Daily - 14 March 2022

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BRAZIL: Record deforestation levels in February

On 11 March, Brazil’s Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (Inpe), a government body, released preliminary figures showing that Amazon deforestation soared to a new record in February. 


The February figures follow on from record deforestation levels in January also. Deforestation levels are usually low at this time of year, and while the latest monthly figures remain a far cry from the rates of deforestation observed in the months of July and August, at the peak of the Amazon fire season, the fact that they are rising sets alarm bells ringing. Deforestation has already soared under President Jair Bolsonaro, and recent years have seen a pattern of deforestation increasing in election years. Bolsonaro is expected to seek re-election in October.  

  • The Inpe’s deforestation alert system (Deter), which gives a preliminary monthly estimate of deforestation, found that 198.67km2 of Amazon forest were cleared in February. This is a 62% increase on February 2021 deforestation levels and represents the highest levels for that month since the current data series began in 2015/2016. 
  • Combined, Amazon deforestation over the months of January and February this year has tripled compared with January-February 2021. Deforestation reached a 10-year high last year. 
  • These figures come as scientists are warning that the Amazon is reaching a tipping point – where the forest dies off and it will start emitting more carbon than it can absorb – on the one hand, and as the Bolsonaro government is pushing for the approval of a package of environmentally damaging bills, on the other. 
  • Environmentalists warn that these bills, against which civil society protested in Brasília last week, would doom efforts to control deforestation even if Bolsonaro is voted out at the election in October and a subsequent government seeks to reverse his assault on the environment.  

Looking Ahead: Bolsonaro notably continues to push for the approval of PL 191, a bill which would open up indigenous territories to commercial mining and is ready to be voted upon in the chamber of deputies, arguing that it would help Brazil resolve its current dependency on fertiliser imports. The bill could be tabled for a vote in April. 

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