Amazon deforestation ‘at alarming levels’

Amazon deforestation ‘at alarming levels’

Amazon deforestation ‘at alarming levels’

A non-government group that monitors the Amazon rainforest has said that the pace of deforestation has been increasing.

Imazon said on May 27 that satellite imagery show the region lost 2,169 square kilometers of forest in the most recent August-through-April period.

That’s a 20 percent jump from the 1,807 square kilometers lost over the same nine-month period the previous year.

Analysts blame uncontrolled logging and land invasion for much of the loss, some of which occurred in protected areas and Indigenous reserves.

President Jair Bolsonaro and his environment minister have questioned the reality of climate change and spoken in favor of expanding mining and industrial farming, including in Brazil’s protected areas. Both believe environmental laws and activist groups often work to hinder Brazil’s economic potential.

Environment minister Ricardo Salles said earlier this month that he wanted to overhaul the Amazon Fund, an initiative created to contain deforestation in an area of nearly 7 million square kilometers. He met on May 27 with representatives of the German and Norwegian governments, two of the fund’s main contributors.

Salles has said his ministry reviewed 103 contracts awarded by the fund to nonprofit groups, about a third of all contracts signed since its launch in 2008. He said the inquiry found “irregularities” in all 103 contracts, but he did not give any specific cases, citing confidentiality clauses until a review by auditors.

Interviewed before the May 27 meeting by Globo TV, Salles re-iterated his intention to shake up the fund by tightening rules and supervision over the allocation of contracts and the choice of projects that can get funding.

“We want better results to reverse the rise in deforestation,” Salles said, saying he wanted “measurable” results and a “return on investment.”

Salles said he could not give more details about the ministry’s proposed changes before discussing them with Norway and Germany. Brazil’s state oil company, Petrobras, is the fund’s third biggest contributor.

The fund was created to receive donations to help prevent, monitor and combat deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, a vast area rich in biodiversity and whose preservation is seen as essential to curbing climate change.