Brazilian Amazon lost 18 trees per second in 2021: Study
The Amazon Rainforest plays a primary role in regulating the world's carbon and oxygen cycles. The rainforest is home to 10% of the world's biodiversity and produces 6% of the world's oxygen. According to a satellite data-based report released on Monday, the Brazilian Amazon lost about 18 trees per second in 2021! The report highlighted that deforestation in Brazil increased by over 20%.
The report by Mapbiomas, a network of universities, technology companies, and NGOs, said that in 2021, around 1.65 million hectares (16,557 square kilometers)—an area larger than Northern Ireland—of indigenous vegetation were lost by Brazil. In 2020, around 13,789 square kilometers were lost. The report added that 2021 witnessed nearly 60% of land deforestation in the Amazon, the world's largest tropical rainforest.
Mapbiomas said, "In the Amazon alone, 111.6 hectares per hour or 1.9 hectares per minute were deforested, which is equivalent to about 18 trees per second." It further said that clearing land for farming is one of the primary reasons, accounting for almost 97%. The report also highlighted that the rising rate of illegal mining was also a major factor behind growing deforestation.
Brazil lost about 42,000 square kilometers of tree cover in the last three years, coinciding with the presidency of far-right politician Jair Bolsonaro. "Almost the area of the state of Rio de Janeiro," the report added. Between January and June 2022, 3,988 square kilometers in the Brazilian Amazon were lost to deforestation, as per data from the country's National Institute of Space Research.
According to government statistics, under the presidency of Bolsonaro, the average annual deforestation in Brazilian Amazon increased by 75% as compared to the previous decade. Bolsonaro has been criticized by environmentalists for encouraging the practice of deforestation and forest destruction for monetary gains and for crippling the protection and research agencies. Bolsonaro's aggressive policies support ranching and mining, which contributed to a deforestation spike.