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Record in February, deforestation in the Amazon rainforest marks +61.8%

Last month legal deforestation in the Amazon was more than double the historical average for February

In February, deforestation in the Amazon rainforest grew by almost 62% compared to the same month of 2022. There are 322 km2 of rainforest where the DETER satellite monitoring system has reported a change in forest coverage in the legal Amazon, the area in Brazilian territory that includes all the Amazon proper and part of Cerrado and Pantanal.

Falsified data on the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest?

As had already been anticipated in recent weeks, the data are probably ‘distorted’ by the intense cloud cover of January. In that month, in fact, the DETER system had detected a collapse of more than 60%, very anomalous and difficult to explain with other factors – for example, with the installation of Lula in place of former president Bolsonaro. The most probable hypothesis is that in February deforestation in the Amazon rainforest that had remained hidden in the first month of the year became ‘visible’.

“The systems are based on optical satellites and cannot see under the clouds. This could be responsible for such big differences in the first two months, taking into account that we are in the Amazon winter, characterized by very intense rains and cloud cover. In other words, part of the deforestation recorded now in February could be from January or even the previous months”, explains Rômulo Batista of Greenpeace Brazil.

Read also Amazon rainforest dieback, new study explains what will happen after the point of no return

However, the fact remains that deforestation levels are still very high. The historical average of deforestation in February is 166 km2, last month’s figure is more than double. And even if now there is a government that wants to make the fight against deforestation its flag, it will take time for the measures to take effect.

Indeed, perhaps the arrival of Lula could incentivize the chainsaws in these first months, argues the spokesman of Greenpeace Brazil. “We just left a government that supported deforestation. While inspections and controls do not reach the territory, illegal loggers may take the opportunity to expand deforestation,” Batista points out.

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