September sees worst-ever deforestation rate in Amazon
Ahead of Brazil's second-round presidential race later this month, Brazilian authorities have registered the worst deforestation levels in Amazon for the month of September.
According to the Brazilian Space Research Institute (INPE), 1,455 square kilometers (562 square miles) of rainforest were destroyed in September 2022 – an area almost twice the size of New York City.
The September 2022 record breaks the previous record for September 2019 when 1,454 km2 were destroyed.
This year the Amazon has experienced a number of records broken for fires and deforestation, as from January-September 8,590 km² of it were deforested - roughly 11 times the size of New York City, according to Greenpeace.
Over the past three years, an area larger than Belgium has been destroyed in the Amazon, as many environmentalists and defenders of Indigenous peoples and their territorial rights have criticized Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro's policies, insisting he has rolled back environmental protections, causing ecological destruction as illegal loggers, miners and ranchers have cleared large swathes of land.
“In recent years, the Bolsonaro government has shown complete disregard for a safe climate and for the Amazon rainforest, Indigenous Peoples and traditional communities," according to Cristiane Mazzetti, spokesperson for Greenpeace Brazil.
In a press release, Mazzetti added Bolsonaro administration "has actively promoted an anti-environment, anti-Indigenous and anti-democratic agenda that has resulted in a severe increase in carbon emissions and that paints a grave scenario in Brazil."
Paul Morozzo, a senior food and forests campaigner at Greenpeace UK, underscored the importance the Amazon plays in humanity's "fight against the climate crisis”.
With more than 17% of the entire Amazon basin lost to deforestation, the destruction is pushing it towards a tipping point.
According to scientists Carlos Nobre and Thomas Lovejoy, if 20 to 25% of the Amazon is lost, it would fail to act as an ecosystem.
Ahead of the second round presidential vote, experts have warned that the future of the Amazon is at stake between the two radically opposed views from both presidential candidates.
Far-right President Bolsonaro wishes to open up the Amazon for development while left-wing Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva who brought down deforestation during his previous tenure as Brazil's president has pledged to create an Indigenous Affairs Ministry, stop illegal gold prospecting in the Amazon, and rebuild the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) environmental agency.
Brazilians return to the polls for the second round on Oct. 30.