Revised data shows deforestation in Brazil Amazon at decade high

FILE PHOTO: Aerial picture showing a deforested piece of land in the Amazon rainforest near an area affected by fires, about 65 km from Porto Velho, in the state of Rondonia, in northern Brazil, on August 23, 2019. – Bolsonaro said Friday he is considering deploying the army to help combat fires raging in the Amazon rainforest after news about the fires has sparked protests around the world. The latest official figures show 76,720 forest fires were recorded in Brazil so far this year — the highest number for any year since 2013. More than half are in the Amazon. (Photo by Carl DE SOUZA / AFP)

BRASILIA, Brazil (AFP) — Brazil on Thursday released revised statistics showing deforestation in the Amazon rainforest surpassed 10,000 square kilometers (3,860 square miles) in the year to July 2019, the highest in more than a decade.

The National Institute for Space Research (INPE) said last week that satellite data showed 9,762 square kilometers were cleared of trees in the 12-month period, an increase of 29.5 percent.

This week’s revised statistics released by the INPE show the increase was even greater than thought: a 43 percent jump in deforestation in the world’s largest rainforest, for a total loss of 10,100 square kilometers in the 12 months to July.

That’s against a loss of 7,033 square kilometers between August 2017 and July 2018.

The deforestation is the largest since 2008 when 12,287 square kilometers of the Amazon were logged in a 12-month period.

Previous data showed clearing in the Amazon nearly doubled in the first eight months of this year, compared with the same period in 2018, to 6,404 square kilometers.

The data’s announcement came after fires ravaged swaths of the rainforest earlier this year, igniting a global outcry and diplomatic feud between President Jair Bolsonaro and European leaders.

Far-right Bolsonaro is a proponent of developing agricultural and mining activities in the Amazon, 60 percent of which lies in Brazil’s borders.

Faced with criticism over the fires and tree clearing, Bolsonaro accused non-government organizations of starting the blazes, and France and others of threatening Brazil’s sovereignty over the rainforest.

© Agence France-Presse