Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon exceeded 1,000 square kilometres in April, the highest total since 2008 and roughly twice the level of April 2021, according to data released today by Brazil’s national space research institute INPE.
The loss — which only accounts for the first 29 days of the month — puts deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon through the first four months of 2022 at 1,953 square kilometres as the region heads into the peak deforestation season, which typically runs from May to September or October.
Every year, 18.7 million acres of forest disappear, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
In 2019, the Brazilian Amazon burned at a record rate. Some of these fires were started by farmers and loggers seeking to use Amazonian land for industrial or agricultural purposes. But deforestation, pollution, climate change, and old fashioned human carelessness are wreaking havoc on many of the world’s forests, not just the Amazon.
Most of the deforestation in Brazil is driven by agriculture, as the country is the world’s leading exporter of beef and soy. Scientists are concerned that, if the deforestation continues, the forest will reach a tipping point after which it loses the ability to generate its own rain and transforms into grassland.
The Environment Ministry said that making comparisons using single months does not provide the best picture, stating that in August to January deforestation fell slightly compared to the same period a year ago.
The federal government is acting more forcefully in 2022 to fight against environmental crimes, the ministry said in a statement to Reuters.
What is Deforestation?
Deforestation, also called forest degradation, is the cutting down of trees and forests. With 31% of the world covered with trees, deforestation is a threat to ecosystems around the globe:
Causes of Deforestation
Deforestation increased 12% globally in 2020, according to the World Resources Institute. Even as the rest of the world pulled back during the global COVID-19 pandemic — this study shows that the world economy shrank by 3.5% in 2020 — the destruction of environmentally sensitive tropical rainforests was on the rise.
Four main causes of Deforestation
- Forests cleared to build factories, businesses, or homes.
- Forests cleared for farmland. (This includes farming-related industries, like paper mills and sugar refineries).
- Forests cleared to create pastures for livestock.
- Forests burned by wildfires.