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Deforestation continues in the Amazon rainforest at a historic rate

Deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. Image Credit: Flickr/Oregon State University

The Amazon Rainforest has seen a record number of deforestation in January compared to this month last year, according to satellite data from Brazil's Space Agency.

The news is in sharp contrast to pledges made by more than 100 governments to halt deforestation by 2030 at the climate change summit COP26 last year.

Deforestation totaled 166 square miles or 430 kilometers. The devastated area was five times larger than in 2021 and was the highest recorded loss since 2015.

Protecting the rainforest is essential in the battle against climate change as the Amazon plays a crucial role in absorbing greenhouse gas emissions, otherwise referred to as carbon sink.

Currently, protection of the Amazon Rainforest is gridlocked between activists and indigenous communities trying to preserve their way of life and those who rely on the ecosystem for commercial farming to support themselves.

Global demand for agricultural businesses such as beef and soya beans continues to fuel deforestation efforts. Brazil is also expected to pass a policy to forgive land grabbing, potentially spelling disaster for rainforest habitats.

Environmentalists are not shocked by these developments, as many argue that President Bolsonaro of Brazil weakened environmental protections after taking office in 2019. At the COP26 summit last year, President Bolsonaro promised to stop deforestation efforts by the end of the decade. The Brazilian Government currently argues that the rainforest has seen a decrease in tree loss since August of last year, despite satellite data saying otherwise.

"The new data yet again exposes how the government's actions contradict its greenwashing campaigns," says Cristiane Mazzetti of Greenpeace Brazil.

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