Preliminary government figures released this week showed that deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon fell to its lowest July level since 2017, a considerable 66% drop compared to the same month last year.
The figures, obtained through satellite data by the Brazilian space research agency INPE, revealed that 500 square kilometres (193 square miles) of rainforest were cleared in July. Over the first seven months of the year, deforestation has fallen cumulatively by 42.5% compared to the same period in 2022.
This significant reduction, especially the sequential drops in June and July, is particularly promising, as Amazon deforestation often peaks during these months when the weather becomes drier. “We are seeing the deforestation growth curve invert,” announced Environment Ministry secretary Joao Paulo Capobianco.
The encouraging figures come as President Lula prepares to meet leaders of Amazonian countries in northern Brazil next week. The summit aims to formulate a common policy for the first time to protect the world’s largest rainforest. The agenda will include border security and engaging private businesses to aid the reforestation of 30 million hectares (74 million acres) of degraded land.
Experts praised Lula’s early reductions, attributing them to emergency measures, especially command and control tactics. WWF-Brasil manager Mariana Napolitano noted, “It’s a very significant drop for a drier month,” adding that, “That shows us that the emergency measures that were taken have been working.”
However, she also emphasized the need for ongoing vigilance, as fires and clear-cutting often peak in the coming months. “But deforestation remains at high levels, and to zero it by 2030, more structural measures will be needed,” she warned.
Brazil’s recent success in combating deforestation reflects a critical shift in the nation’s environmental policy. It represents not only a win for the Lula administration but also a beacon of hope for global rainforest conservation.
However, the path to zero deforestation by 2030 is fraught with challenges, demanding a multifaceted approach that involves government initiatives, international cooperation, and private sector collaboration.