Brazil government slams 'sensationalist' deforestation data

  • Brazil government slams 'sensationalist' deforestation data

Brazil government slams 'sensationalist' deforestation data

Deforestation of the Amazon rainforest increased by 278% in July 2019 compared with July 2018, resulting in the destruction of 870 square miles (2,253 square kilometers) of vegetation, new satellite data from the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (INPE) show.

The figures are the highest recorded since the INPE started gathering data in 2014.

Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, a former army captain elected previous year, has always been skeptical of environmental issues, and has repeatedly said the Amazon is a resource that belongs to Brazil, which Brazilians should choose how to administer.

"This is a very serious setback", said Malu Ribeiro, a project coordinator at SOS Mata Atlantica, a nonprofit organization whose work focuses on another endangered area, Brazil's Atlantic Forest.

"The government is fighting with the numbers, trying to change the reality of what is happening in the forest", said Carlos Rittl, director of the Brazilian Climate Observatory. Before removing him from his post, Bolsonaro had said Galvao was "in the service of some NGOs".

Whilst on the campaign trail, Bolsonaro had pledged to help mining and farming communities expand their land usage on areas such as the Amazon rainforest. Scientists and academics have come out in support of the institute and its former president, which have denied the accusations.

The data was produced by a monitoring system called DETER, which has been producing daily alerts on deforestation based on satellite images since 2004. Bolsonaro was helped in his election a year ago by support from the powerful agriculture lobby.

His policies so far suggest he may be keeping to his promises, and most recently received criticism for pesticide use in Brazil.