Amazon deforestation for October over four times size of Glasgow

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Official data from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research released today warns of a deforested area in the Amazon of 796km² between October 1st and 29th – more than 4.5 times larger than the city of Glasgow. 

On average, there was an increase of 27% in the area with deforestation alerts for October in the three years Bolsonaro has been in office. The average was 729 km² for 2019, 2020 and 2021 compared to an average of 572km² for the three previous years. 

Rômulo Batista, Greenpeace Brazil Amazon campaigner said:
“While the eyes of the world are on COP26, waiting for serious and decisive commitments for the future of the planet, Brazil – once a leader in these meetings – has presented nothing but empty plans that lack ambition and detail.

“Signing or endorsing agreements does not change the reality of the forest floor. Deforestation and fires remain out of control and violence against Indigenous Peoples is only increasing.” 

Deforestation alerts in October were concentrated in the north states of Pará 474km² (59.5% of the total), Mato Grosso 102km² (13% of the total) and Amazonas 90km² (11% of the total). Estimates by the Climate Observatory indicate that most (46%) of the greenhouse gases emitted by Brazil come from deforestation. 

Data from 2020 shows a trend indicating Brazil emissions increasing since 2010. Last year, in the midst of the pandemic, the increase in greenhouse gas emissions in Brazil was 9.5%; in the rest of the world there was a reduction by about 7%.

The biggest driver responsible for increasing the numbers in the country was land use change, which brings together deforestation in the Amazon and Cerrado biomes. The sector was responsible for 998 million tons of CO2 in 2020, an increase of 24% compared to 2019. 

In Brazil, a series of bills going through Congress will aggravate emissions if passed. There are proposed changes to the law to end environmental licensing (Bill 3729/2004), to open indigenous lands for exploitation (Bill 191/2020) and to make the demarcation still pending in many indigenous territories unfeasible (Bill 490/2007), as well as the legalisation of land grabbing on public lands (Bill 2633/2020).

Anna Jones, Greenpeace UK Head of Food and Forests, said:
“This data is real and it’s frightening. This is the truth lying beneath the greenwash that companies and governments are peddling as they rush to sign agreements at COP26. Robust legislation to end all deforestation in food supply chains is vital, and we urgently need to reduce meat and dairy consumption which is driving this destruction.”