Amazon rainforest: Deforestation rate halved in 2023

Picture of deforestation in the Amazon
Image caption,President Lula has pledged to end deforestation in the Amazon by 2030

By Sofia Ferreira Santos

BBC News

The rate of deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon fell by nearly 50% in 2023 compared to the previous year, space agency data suggests.

Brazil’s environment ministry said it was the lowest recorded deforestation rate in the last five years.

Though smaller than in previous years, the deforested area is still more than six times the size of New York City.

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva pledged to end deforestation by 2030 when he took office a year ago.

Preliminary data from national space agency Inpe showed 5,153 sq km (1,989.6 sq miles) of the Amazon were cleared in 2023, down from 10,278 sq km in 2022.

President Luladuring his speech at climate summit COP27 in 2022.

Rainforest destruction had surged to a 12-year high under his predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro.

Picture of deforestation in the Amazon
Image caption,The Amazon is the world’s largest rainforest, and 60% of it is in Brazil

In  Brazil’s environment ministry said this was the first step in achieving its zero deforestation goal.

It also stated that the government remained committed to combating illegal practices in the Amazon.

Growing inspection efforts by environment watchdog Ibama were key in bringing about the fall, the environment ministry added.

Brazilian Environment Minister Marina Silva said the falling rate was a “reflection” of Ibama’s ongoing work in the rainforest.

The Amazon is a crucial battleground in the global fight against climate change.

It is often called “the lungs of the planet” due to its essential role in the planet’s oxygen and carbon dioxide cycles.

The rainforest is home to about three million species of plants and animals, and one million indigenous people.

Around 60% of it is located in Brazil.

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