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According to government satellite data, the amount of trees cut down in the Brazilian Amazon in January substantially outpaced deforestation in the same month previous year.

The area damaged was five times larger than in 2021, making January 2015 the most destructive month on record. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is accused by environmentalists of allowing deforestation to accelerate. If we are to combat climate change, we must protect the Amazon. Trees are cut for their wood as well as to make room for multinational food firms to sow crops.

More than 100 states pledged to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030 at the COP26 climate change meeting in Glasgow last year. According to environmentalists, the latest satellite data from Brazil’s space agency Inpe puts into question the Brazilian government’s commitment to safeguarding the country’s vast jungle. “The new data reveals how the government’s actions contradict its greenwashing initiatives,” says Greenpeace Brazil’s Cristiane Mazzetti.

Greenpeace is urging shops in the United Kingdom and abroad to exclude deforestation-related suppliers from their meat and dairy supply chains. In January, deforestation covered 430 square kilometers (166 square miles), over seven times the size of Manhattan, New York. Because loggers are normally unable to reach dense forest during the rainy season, felling huge quantities of trees at the start of the year is unusual. Brazil’s immense rainforest acts as a carbon sink, absorbing large amounts of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. However, the forest’s ability to absorb emissions decreases as more trees are cut down.

However, there are communities in the area that claim they need to use the forest for mining and commercial farming to make a living. At the same time, Amazonian indigenous people battle to preserve the jungle and their way of life. Mr Bolsonaro has weakened environmental regulations in the region, arguing that the government should take advantage of the region to alleviate poverty.

There are several causes that contribute to this amount of deforestation. Some of these unlawful clearances are being fueled by strong worldwide demand for agricultural commodities such as beef and soya beans. Another factor is the hope that a new law will be implemented in Brazil soon to legitimize and forgive land theft. The Brazilian government claims that total deforestation was reduced between August of last year and January of this year compared to the same time a year ago.

Environmentalists believe the record January fall is unsurprising, given President Bolsonaro’s considerable weakening of legal protections since taking office in 2019.

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