Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon at Highest Level in 15 Years

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The already threatened Amazon rainforest is facing increasingly dire challenges.

The deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest is at the highest level since 2006, BBC reported.

Deforestation in the rainforest soared 22% in the past year according to the government’s annual report, which was obtained by The Guardian. The report, released Thursday, showed satellite images of an area nearly 17 times the size of New York City that has been lost.

The figures undercut Brazil’s controversial President Jair Bolsonaro’s assurances that the South American nation is curbing illegal logging, The Guardian reported. Deforestation of the rainforest has increased during Bolsonaro’s reign, according to CNBC. Bolsonaro has called for more mining and commercial farming in protected parts of the Amazon, The Guardian reported.

Overall, 13,235 square kilometers, or about 8,224 square miles, were lost in comparison to the 14,286 square kilometers deforested in 2006, CNBC reported.

Environment Minister Joaquim Leite said in a statement obtained by BBC that the data represents a "challenge."

"We have to be more forceful in relation to these crimes,” he said, adding the data "does not exactly reflect the situation in the last few months.” The data covers a period from August 2020 through to July 2021.

Brazil was one of the countries that recently promised to end and reverse deforestation by 2030 during the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, earlier this month.

Amazon rainforest is home to about three million species of plants and animals, and one million Indigenous people, and is also a vital carbon source that ebbs the pace of global warming, BBC reported.

Some of the Amazon was deforested to build a stadium for the 2010 World Cup when Brazil hosted the tournament that summer. In 2019, Business Insider reported that the $300 million stadium that was used for a handful of games in the state of Manaus during that World Cup now sits abandoned. Manaus is in the middle of the Amazon and very hard to travel to, Business Insider reported.

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