The environment is scoring another victory, with data showing that deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has fallen at least 60% in July compared to last year. Environment Minister Marina Silva shared the news with the Guardian ahead of a regional Amazon summit intended to bolster the protection of this precious resource.
Silva's claim is based on data from the country's deforestation detection system, and while the exact numbers will be released shortly, independent analysts say that the change is incredible. Momentum has been building all year, with government data showing in early July that deforestation had already fallen 34% in the first half of 2023.
The changes come as President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva settles into his first year in office. The new president has made it a point to crack down on land grabbers and illegal miners in an effort to curb deforestation. He's also assigned more land to indigenous peoples and created large conservation areas. Lula ran his campaign on the promise that he would eliminate deforestation by 2030, and the progress his administration has been this year is proof that he's serious about implementing change.
But there is still a lot of work to do, and change cannot come quickly enough, particularly due to the devastation that the Amazon faced under former-President Jair Bolsonaro. During his time in office, Bolsonaro weakened enforcement measures, weakened indigenous land rights, slashed the budget of science and environmental agencies, and fired top experts. This led to a surge in deforestation and some of the worst wildfires the Amazon has seen.
Lula is now working to reverse the tide and bring environmental health back to the forefront. Luckily, as this is the second time he's been elected president, he has experience. During his first term as president, from 2003 to 2010, deforestation fell dramatically. Now, Brazil is meeting with seven other South American countries to see how they can work together to make a change for the better.
On August 8 and 9, Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Guyana, and Suriname will meet in order to strengthen their resolve to work together in the fight against climate change. Silva hopes that each country can come up with an action plan that will produce concrete results and is acutely aware that Brazil will be a leader in this area. Already, Lula's goal to end deforestation has given them something to reach for.
“The main reason is the decision of Lula to aim for zero deforestation,” she shares. “Since then, we have created new conservation units and indigenous territories that have produced some results … Now, we need to move towards a new model of prosperity that is less predatory, less damaging to local people and the forest.”
With Colombia also showing record numbers in the fight against deforestation, things are looking up across the continent. And Silva, who was Environment Minister during Lula's previous term, is confident that Brazil will be able to keep up even if the situation they've inherited is more complex. She promises: “We have more experience, and we know how to do it.”
h/t: [The Guardian]