Bolsonaro and The Amazon: Deforestation Reaches Previously Preserved Areas

Regions known as Amacro and Matopiba accelerate the process with new agricultural frontiers

Giovana Girardi

Deforestation in Brazil during Bolsonaro's government not only has grown in range, compared to the four years prior to his mandate but has also reached places that had previously been barely affected or not at all. It extended the frontier of agricultural expansion beyond the arc of deforestation and penetrated deeper into the forest, exploded in cities in the cerrado in a few years, and reached more than half of the municipalities across the country.

This is what reveals some analysis reports recently released and which helps to qualify —in addition to quantifying— how deforestation has behaved during this period. The first conclusion is that it has become more spread out in the territory, as well as bolder and faster.

Considering only the first three years of government, there was an increase in the number of municipalities with deforestation alerts. They were 1,734 (31.1%) in 2019 and jumped to 2,889 (51.9%) in 2021, according to an analysis by the MapBiomas Alerta project in its Annual Deforestation Report, released in mid-July. From 2019 to 2021, as the report points out, 61.2% of Brazilian municipalities had at least one case of deforestation detected.

The average area of each case of deforestation has grown, which indicates greater boldness in actions. For example, large deforestation — over 100 hectares (about 10 football fields) have become more frequent.

There was a 43.5% increase in the number of these alerts between 2019 and 2021. They represented 44.2% of the total area deforested in the country in 2019 and increased to 46.6% in 2020 and to 51.7% in 2021.

In addition, the speed of deforestation has also increased. It went from, on average, 139 hectares per hour in 2019 to 189 ha/h in 2021." The number of municipalities with cases of deforestation increased, the average area of each deforestation case has grown and the speed of each deforestation case increased. If the speed increases and the area increases, this is a sign that impunity is underway", comments forest engineer Tasso Azevedo, coordinator of MapBiomas. In fact, according to the group's analysis, there are signs of illegality in over 98% of the area deforested in the period.

Translated by Cassy Dias

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