On 17 November, Brazil’s Environment Minister Sarney Filho announced that deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon in the past year fell by 16 percent.
After the previous year’s figures recorded a 29% increase, this is a positive step forward. However, there is still a long way to go.
Deforestation trends are driven by a complex range of factors, including areas such as commodity prices. Despite this, the Environment Minister has attributed this year’s fall to the government's work on monitoring and enforcement of the Brazilian rainforest.
Commenting on the findings, WWF Brazil Executive Director Mauricio Voivodic said:
"Despite the small fall, we still cannot celebrate. This year's rate is still higher than the average for the last nine years. And Brazil cannot continue to destroy its natural heritage in this way. "
"The federal government still has low governance and planning for the Amazon region and therefore it tries to stem the tide, without replacing the current development model with another, that generates wealth for the region by keeping the forest standing along with all its cultural and biological diversity." added Voivodic
On the Brazilian government’s announcement, Sarah Hutchison – WWF Head of Amazon Programmes said:
“The Amazon rainforest plays a vital role in stabilising the earth’s climate, and its deforestation is a large contributor to climate change. The true picture of deforestation in the Amazon is much higher than this new data may suggest, especially if we consider the other countries that share the Amazon.
“We need to urgently drive down rates of deforestation even further – our planet simply cannot continue to lose an area of the Amazon equivalent to 4 times the size of greater London every year. The Brazilian Government, together with the private sector and international support need to come together to increase the successes in stemming deforestation if these valuable rainforests are to be saved.”
It is estimated that 6,624 square kilometres of Brazilian Amazon rainforest have been cleared in the past year. These figures are calculated by the Amazon Deforestation Calculation Programme (Prodes).