2020 another grim year for Brazilian Amazon
Published: Jan 10, 2021 06:08 PM
Deforestation destroyed the equivalent of more than two soccer pitches each minute in the Brazilian Amazon in 2020, another devastating year for a resource seen as vital to curbing climate change, according to government data released on Friday.

A farm worker tries to put out an illegal fire, which burned part of the Amazon rainforest reserve and was spreading to their land north of Sinop, in Mato Grosso State, Brazil, on August 10, 2020. Photo: AFP

Brazilian space agency INPE identified 8,426 square kilometers of Amazon rainforest lost to deforestation in 2020, using its DETER monitoring program, which analyzes satellite images to track the destruction monthly. That was the second-most devastating year for Brazil's share of the world's biggest rainforest since the program was launched in 2015.

The amount of forest destroyed was only larger in 2019, when the figure came in at 9,178 square kilometers.

Environmentalists underlined that those were also the first two years in office for far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who has cut funding for environmental programs and pushed to open protected Amazon lands to agribusiness and mining.

"The two years of the Bolsonaro administration have been the worst two years [of deforestation] recorded in the DETER program," said Marcio Astrini of the Brazilian Climate Observatory, a coalition of environmental groups.

"That's no coincidence. It's the result of the current government's policies of environmental destruction," he said in a statement.

The Brazilian space agency also operates another satellite-based monitoring program known as PRODES that analyzes deforestation once a year.
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