Brazilian Amazon deforestation hits new record in May

Environmentalists warn that 2020 will be the most damaging year ever for the world’s largest rainforest.

Brazilian Amazon deforestation hits new record in May

Deforestation started to increase in the Brazilian Amazon last month, revealing that it was the worst in May and the worst first five months of the year. 

According to official statistics published Friday, environmentalists warn that 2020 will be the most damaging year ever for the world’s largest rainforest. There will be more losses than wildfires that sparked last year’s global outcry. 

“We are witnessing a complete disaster scenario for the Amazon,” said Mariana Napolitano, scientific director at the Brazil office of the World Wildlife Fund, in a statement.

According to satellite data from the National space research Institute of Brazil (INPE), the Brazilian Amazon lost a total of 829 square kilometers (320 square miles) to deforestation. That is 14 times the size of Manhattan.

That was an increase of 12 percent from last year. And also the worst May since data collection began in August 2015. 

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is currently higher than 2,000 square kilometers so far this year. That’s a 34 percent rise from the same time last year. 

This is all the more troubling, considering that the most devastating months were still ahead — the dry season.


This week, the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM) forecasts that 9,000 square kilometers of the cleared forest will be prepared for burning by August.

According to INPE, 9,169 square kilometers were lost to all sorts of deforestation throughout the year, possibly causing worse fires than last year. 

Brazilian Government

Activists accuse Brazil’s far-right climate change pessimist, President Jair Bolsonaro. They accuse the president of inciting those culpable for deforestation, with calls to legalize farming and mining on protected lands. 

“The government has made clear its utter disrespect for the environment; the forests and the lives of Brazilians,” said Cristiane Mazzetti, an activist for Greenpeace, in a statement.

The deforestation catastrophe already merged with the coronavirus outbreak in Brazil; the most recent pandemic epicenter, with more than 40,000 deaths so far. 

The Health crisis has undermined the capacity of environmental authorities to police the forest, experts say. 

And as the fire season starts, the ensuing smoke threatens to trigger an increase in respiratory problems in an area still plagued by COVID-19 as a result.

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