HomeTop StoriesDeforestation in Brazil's Cerrado higher than in the Amazon: report

Deforestation in Brazil’s Cerrado higher than in the Amazon: report

Deforestation in Brazil’s Cerrado region, a vast tropical savannah known for its rich biodiversity, has increased sharply in 2023, overtaking that of the Amazon, according to a report published Tuesday.

In the Cerrado, which stretches through central Brazil and into neighboring Paraguay and Bolivia, more than 1.11 million hectares (2.74 million acres) were destroyed in 2023, a 68 percent increase from the previous year, it said report from research group MapBiomas.

These losses represent almost two-thirds of the deforestation suffered by all of Brazil and about 2.4 times the destruction recorded in the Amazon, the report said.

Last year, 454,300 hectares were deforested in the Amazon region, 62.2 percent less than in 2022.

This is the first time that deforestation in the Cerrado has exceeded that of the Amazon since MapBiomas began collecting data from various satellite mapping systems in 2019.

Less known than the Amazon rainforest to the north, the Cerrado is one of the Earth’s three great savannas, along with those of Africa and Australia, covering an area the size of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain together.

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“The face of deforestation is changing in Brazil, concentrating in biomes dominated by savannas and grasslands, and decreasing in jungle areas,” says MapBiomas coordinator Tasso Azevedo.

But in all cases, “almost all deforestation in the country (97 percent) is caused by agricultural expansion,” points out MapBiomas, a collective of NGOs and Brazilian universities.

According to data from the Amazon Environmental Research Institute, more than 93 percent of demolitions constituted “at least one indication of illegality” or irregularity.

More broadly, deforestation in Brazil fell in 2023 for the first time in four years, down 11.6 percent from the previous year.

The report is bittersweet news for left-wing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who presents himself as a champion of the fight against climate change and has pledged to eradicate illegal deforestation in Brazil by 2030, which had worsened dramatically under his far-right predecessor. Jair Bolsonaro.

The loss of native vegetation in the vast South American country is having increasingly obvious consequences, such as the historic floods that hit the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul earlier this month, killing at least 170 people and forcing some 600,000 from their homes to leave.

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