The Amazon Rainforest has seen its second consecutive month of increased destruction ahead of the annual burning season.
Compared to this time last year, deforestation has risen by 43%, with a total of 1,157 sq km (446 sq miles) destroyed in the first four months of 2021 – this is nearly the same size as the entirety of Los Angeles.
Preservation of the rainforest is critical for fighting climate change as it’s one of the planet’s most important carbon stores. However, while Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro seemingly pledged to reinforce environmental protections and reduce deforestation, illegal logging, forest fires and other agricultural activities have increased since he came to power in 2019.
As per BBC News, Bolsonaro has also rolled back environmental legislation, allowing for extensive damage to the Amazon. Back in November last year, Brazil’s INPE space agency said deforestation was at its highest level since 2008.
This comes ahead of the dry season between May and October, where deforestation tends to reach its annual peak.
Soon, Brazil’s Senate will vote on a bill that would allow for private ownership of public land, which lawmakers fear could lead to further damage to the Amazon.
Marcio Astrini, executive secretary of the Observatorio do Clima campaign group, said, ‘The Amazon has become an open bar for land grabbers, illegal loggers and miners, and several attempts are being made by the government and Congress to eliminate legal protection of forests, such as the amnesty for land grabbing and now the licensing bill.’
The proposed law has attracted the ire of UK retailers, with more than 40 major chains threatening to stop buying products from the country if it goes ahead.
Mike Barrett, executive director of science and conservation at WWF-UK, told Sky News, ‘If passed, this vote in the Brazilian Congress will fuel further destruction and place greater risk on the lives of the people and wildlife who call it home. As global efforts to protect the Amazon threaten to be undermined, it’s encouraging to see major businesses sounding the alarm.’
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