Amazon destruction speeds up for 2nd month

Brazil is under intense pressure to rein in destruction of the world's largest tropical rainforest.
Brazil is under intense pressure to rein in destruction of the world's largest tropical rainforest.

Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest rose 43 per cent in April from the same month a year ago, preliminary government data shows, the second consecutive monthly rise as destruction picked up before the annual burning season.

In the first four months of 2021, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon totaled 1157 square kilometres, an area nearly the size of Los Angeles and down four per cent from a year earlier, according to national space research agency Inpe.

Brazil is under intense international pressure led by the United States to rein in destruction of the world's largest tropical rainforest, critical in curbing catastrophic climate change because of the vast amount of greenhouse gas absorbed.

At a leaders summit last month organised by the United States, President Jair Bolsonaro committed to increase funding for environmental enforcement and to end deforestation by 2030.

But US President Joe Biden's administration, which is in talks to possibly fund Brazilian conservation efforts, says it expects immediate action to reduce deforestation this year.

Illegal logging and forest fires have soared since Bolsonaro took office in 2019, with deforestation hitting a 12-year high in 2020, government data showed.

Bolsonaro's media representatives referred questions to the vice-president's office.

The vice-presidency said in a statement the data was designed to help authorities rapidly respond to deforestation, adding that comparing single months from different years was not appropriate and only longer-term comparisons should be made.

Early months of the year, when intense rains prevent loggers easily working in the forest, have limited impact on the Amazon's overall annual deforestation rates, as destruction peaks in the drier season from May to October.

Deforestation in July 2020 alone was higher than the four months of January to April combined this year.

Australian Associated Press