Amazon deforestation hits record high in January

High prices for beef, soy and other commodities are boosting demand for cheap land
calendar icon 12 February 2022
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Brazil recorded the most deforestation ever in the Amazon rainforest for the month of January, according to government data on Friday, as destruction continues to worsen despite the government's recent pledges to bring it under control, reported Reuters.

Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon totalled 430 square kilometers (166 square miles) last month, 5 times higher than January 2021, according to preliminary satellite data from government space research agency Inpe.

That's the highest since the current data series began in 2015/2016, equal to an area more than seven times the size of Manhattan.

Environmental researchers said they were not surprised to see destruction still rising, given right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro's weakening of environmental protections.

With little fear of punishment, speculators are increasingly clearing forest for ranches in illegal land grabs, said Britaldo Soares Filho, an environmental modeling researcher at the Federal University of Minas Gerais. High prices for beef, soy and other commodities are also boosting the demand for cheap land.

"People might be surprised that it didn't increase even more," Soares Filho said.

"There is a race to deforest the Amazon."

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