The Brazilian Amazon lost 6,624 sq km of forest between August 2016 and July 2017, an area about twice the City of London.
This week, president Michel Temer’s administration said the 16% reduction from the previous period was a victory against illegal clearing. But environmental groups cautioned against such optimism and criticised the government for stripping protections from forests to aid farmers.
The figure, calculated by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) has been used for a range of environmental policies. It is also the base to calculate the level of Norwegian aid to fight deforestation in the Amazon – if the rate increases, the funding dwindles.
In a press conference held on Tuesday, environment minister José Sarney Filho said the reduction showed Brazil had regained control over deforestation in the Amazon as a result of more effective enforcement of the law.
“When people who do illegal deforestation know that the Brazilian state is present, they reduce their activities. This is what’s happening”, said Sarney Filho.
The minister …