Notwithstanding President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s election victory and his campaign commitment to stop deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon by 2030, the jungle recently witnessed its worst February on record.
According to AFP, Brazil’s INPE space research institute’s DETER monitoring system discovered that as of Feb. 17, 80.6 square miles of forest had been removed, or around 30,000 football fields. The unprecedented deforestation, according to WWF Brazil specialist Daniel Silva, might not be as bad as it first appeared.
He told the Brazilian website G1 that “the rise in the area cleared of trees in the early days of February must be regarded with caution. Cloud cover increased in January, and DETER may have detected deforestation that took place in January in February.
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Jair Bolsonarow is seen as a victory for the Indigenous people who live in the Amazon rainforest and for the rainforest itself. More than 13,000 square miles of forest were destroyed under Bolsonaro’s presidency as a result of his backing for exploitative companies at the expense of environmental and indigenous rights protections.
On the other side, Lula has pledged to safeguard 193,000 square miles and form a coalition with Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to defend the rainforest.
Also, he has a successful track record. According to NPR, during his first term as president, which ran from 2004 to 2011, he collaborated with Environmental Minister Marina Silva, who is currently in the position again, to reduce deforestation by roughly 75 percent.
It appeared as though things were going well in January, the first month of his second term, with INPE reporting deforestation counts down 61 percent from January 2022, which had been the worst in eight years, as Reuters at the time reported.
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Silva Nevertheless Advised Vigilance.
“Seeing such a significant decline in January is encouraging,” he said. It is still too early to discuss a trend reversal, though, as a portion of this decline may be attributed to more cloud cover.
According to the Brazilian Report, February’s figures are around 5% more than the 199 square kilometers (about 77 square miles) lost in February 2022 under Bolsonaro.
According to Reuters, Lula has a difficult time undoing Bolsonaro’s decisions because he needs to strengthen environmental agencies after money and staffing cuts.
Also, due to the invasion of Yanomami territory by illegal gold miners in the state of Roraima, he inherits a crisis in the largest Indigenous reserve in the Brazilian Amazon. According to The Guardian, during Bolsonaro’s presidency, the number of miners who violated the reserve and brought with them disease, environmental degradation, and violence increased by at least 25,000.
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The Bolsonaro administration’s policies, which supported the acts of the miners, have been denounced by Lula’s government, which in early February began its first operation to drive them out of the region.
What I observed in Roraima was more than a humanitarian crisis, said Lula after visiting the region in January, as The Guardian reported at the time. A government blind to the suffering of the Brazilian people committed a planned crime against the Yanomami.