Clearing the Amazon

Official data confirm Amazon deforestation is still soaring

Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod

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Published: 8 August 2021

This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod

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Main image: © Christian Braga / Greenpeace

Official data published by the Brazilian Space Research Institute (INPE) reveal an area of the Amazon rainforest over five and a half times the size of London was cleared in the last 12 months.

8,712km2 (871,200 hectares) of deforestation occurred between 01 August 2020 and 30 July 2021, according to the Brazil government’s own DETER-B alert system. This is the second-largest annual amount the system has recorded since its implementation in 2015.

The collapse of the Amazon

The news comes just days after the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies voted to approve a new land grabbing bill that would further legitimise illegal deforestation and could put at least 19.6 million hectares of public non-designated land in the Amazon at risk according to the Brazilian NGO Imazon.

‘Few expected this government to fulfil its promise to reduce deforestation by 10% but if the Brazilian Senate now approves the land grabbers’ law, the Congress will succeed in accelerating the collapse of the Amazon. Parts of the rainforest vital to preventing the worst scenarios of the climate and biodiversity emergencies will be lost forever.’

CRISTIANE MAZZETTI
Senior forest campaigner, Greenpeace Brazil

Land grabbing on public lands is linked to one-third of all Amazon deforestation in Brazil.

The main driver of deforestation is clearance by meat producers for cattle ranches.

Indigenous land rights

Despite recent promises by Bolsonaro to address illegal deforestation as he hopes to negotiate new trade deals with the EU, USA, UK and Canada, he and his allies are advancing a whole suite of radical bills that would allow for more deforestation and undermine Indigenous People’s land rights.

Experts predict these proposals could ‘break’ the Amazon because the rainforest can only sustain so much forest loss before it fails as an ecosystem. 


‘Decades of inaction by governments and companies have created the crisis the Amazon now faces, emboldening the Brazilian government to further exploit the Amazon and push through some of the most destructive legislation ever seen.

‘Trusted brands like Tesco, Sainsbury’s and M&S still buy from forest destroyers despite promises to remove deforestation from their supply chains by 2020. And legislation proposed by the UK Government is so weak it’s effectively giving carte blanche to Bolsonaro to legalise more deforestation to get around the rules. 

‘Immediate action is needed on all fronts to prevent the climate, humanitarian and wildlife catastrophe that losing the Amazon and other vital forests would cause. Supermarkets like Tesco must immediately drop meat suppliers owned by forest destroyers like JBS and governments must close legislative loopholes to ensure deforestation-free supply chains are exactly that.’

ANNA JONES
Greenpeace UK head of forests

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