RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rose 85% in 2019 compared to the previous year, according to a data-based warning system from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE), in the latest piece of evidence to highlight rampant tree-felling.
According to data from INPE’s DETER database, which publishes alerts on fires and other types of developments affecting the rainforest, the area with deforestation warnings last year totaled 9,166 square kilometers (3539.01 square miles), compared to 4,946 square kilometers in 2018.
The DETER numbers are not considered official deforestation data. That comes from a different system called PRODES, also managed by INPE. PRODES numbers released in November showed deforestation rose to its highest in over a decade this year, jumping 30% from 2018 to 9,762 square km.
Researchers and environmentalists blame right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro for emboldening ranchers and loggers by calling for the Amazon to be developed and for weakening the government environmental agency Ibama.
Bolsonaro has denied responsibility and blamed previous left-wing governments for the increase in deforestation, saying policies including budget cuts at agencies like Ibama were in place well before the new government took office on Jan. 1.
Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter; editing by Diane Craft