Photo: Deforestation in Amazon
Brazil’s portion of the Amazon rainforest lost between August 2013 and January this year some 1,162.5 sq. kilometers (448.8 sq. miles) of woodland, an area 19 percent less than the amount deforested between August 2012 and January 2013, which was 1,427 sq. kilometers (551 sq. miles), the government said.
The estimate of the devastated area was based on an analysis of satellite images, and can only be considered an alert since the true dimenson of the deforestation must be confirmed by a visit of enforcement officers to the identified areas, Environment Minister Izabela Teixeira told a press conference.
Of the area of destruction indicated by the satellite images, 76 percent appears to have been subjected to clear-cutting, 8 percent degraded by forest fires, and 5 percent decimated by woodland exploitation.
The minister added that, to improve on the satellite measurements, the government is also using images taken by aircraft and even drones equipped with special radar.
In its plan to combat climate change, Brazil voluntarily committed to reducing deforestation in the Amazon by 80 percent by the year 2020 compared with the area in 1990, which signifies an annual destruction of 3,925 sq. kilometers (1,515.5 sq. miles).
Deforestation is the principal cause of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions into Brazil’s atmosphere, both for the gases released by forest fires and for the volume of oxygen that a shrinking rainforest no longer generates.