By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon region declined by sixteen percent between August 2016 and July 2017, according to the National Institute of Space Research (INPE), a Brazilian government agency. Nonetheless, more than 6,624 square kilometers of forest were destroyed during the 12-month period, equivalent to four times the country’s largest city, São Paulo.
“This data is highly encouraging,” said the Minister of the Environment, Sarney Filho when talking about the decrease in deforestation. “The result gives Brazil credibility to reach Bonn [Germany], at the COP 23 as a leading country in the climate area, for the fulfillment its commitments,” he added.
According to INPE, since 2004, when the Plan for Prevention and Control of Deforestation of the Amazon was launched, the devastation of the Amazon biome fell by 76 percent.
The states of Pará and Mato Grosso continue to be two of the states with the largest deforested areas, but in comparison with the previous 12-month period, the two recorded a reduction in deforestation (nineteen percent for Pará and ten percent for Mato Grosso). The state with the lowest deforested area was Tocantins, with 26 km² and a 55 percent reduction in relation to the previous 12 months.
According to Brazilian officials the positive results reflect the policy of Brazil’s government, which treats deforestation as a priority, investing resources and manpower to monitor and curb illegal logging and mining in the region.
“When illegal loggers know clearly see the presence of the Brazilian State, they reduce their activities. And this is what is happening,” stated Sarney Filho.
According to officials the preservation of the Amazon region is not only a Brazilian interest but rather a worldwide interest. “It is important to remember that this (deforestation) is one of the Brazilian indexes most observed by the world; the world observes the Amazon,” said Science and Technology Minister, Gilberto Kassab during the press conference to announce the results.
“Today, with the consolidation of the downward trend, the world realizes that the Temer government’s public policies are correct and the results are emerging,” added the official.