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Brazil Records Worst October in Deforestation Since 2015

Nearly 1,000 square kilometers of the Brazilian Amazon were lost in October, the worst figure for that month since records began in 2015, according to official data released Friday, less than two months before the end of President Jair Bolsonaro’s term in office.

The 904 km2 of area logged last month represents 3% more than that of October 2021, a former record for the month, according to data from the DETER satellite monitoring system, from the National Institute for Space Research (INPE).

The NGO WWF-Brazil alerted that along with the increase in deforestation, the number of fires “skyrocketed” after the presidential elections.

“The increase in deforestation and fire alerts was expected, but even so the numbers of the first days of November are frightening, showing a rampant race for devastation,” the NGO said in a statement. 

During the mandate of Bolsonaro, a climate change denier, the average annual deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon – mainly caused by logging for the expansion of cattle pastures and the agricultural frontier, according to experts – increased 75% compared to the previous decade. 

The Brazilian Amazon corresponds to 59% of the Brazilian territory, distributed among nine states.

More than half of the area destroyed was concentrated in the state of Pará (north), with 435 km2 cut down. 

The deforestation accumulated between January 1 and October 31 of this year represents the highest value in the historical series of the DETER system, WWF-Brazil pointed out, with the destruction of 9,494 km2. 

The leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who defeated Bolsonaro on October 2 in the presidential runoff, has promised “a living Amazon”, reactivating policies to protect the rainforest and combat deforestation, differentiating himself from the far-right leader. 

“The new government will have a lot of work to do to repair the situation, to put an end to the perception that the Amazon is a lawless land,” said Raul do Valle, a public policy specialist with the NGO WWF-Brazil, in a statement. 

Lula will travel next Monday to Egypt, invited by the president of that country, Abdel Fatah al Sisi, to participate in the COP27 climate conference, his international preview before taking office on January 1, 2023. 

The leftist administration aims to regain international prestige with an agenda focused on environmental protection. 

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