SOURCE: The Guardian

DATE: November 18, 2019

SNIP: Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon has hit the highest annual level in a decade, according to new government data which highlights the impact the president, Jair Bolsonaro, has made on the world’s biggest rainforest.

The new numbers, showing almost 10,000 sq kms were lost in the year to August, were released as emboldened farm owners scuffled with forest defenders in Altamira, the Amazonian city at the heart of the recent devastation.

The assault on the planet’s biggest terrestrial carbon sink by land-grabbers, agribusiness, miners and loggers is accelerating. In the year until 30 July 2019, 9,762 sq kms were lost, an increase of 29.5% over the previous 12 months, the Brazilian space agency INPE said.

The clearance rate – equivalent to about two football fields a minute – is the fastest since 2008, pushing Brazil far off course from reaching its Paris agreement goals to cut carbon emissions.

The annual numbers are compiled with information from the Prodes satellite system, which is considered the most conservative measurement of deforestation. Although less steep than the rise suggested by monthly alerts from the Deter system, it confirms an upward trend that Bolsonaro and his ministers said was a “lie”, which the former head of the space agency was fired for repeating.

Environmental groups blamed the government for “every inch of the increase because it weakened environmental protections, supported loggers and encouraged land-grabbing”.