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Deforestation in the Amazon is at an all-time high

Researchers have warned that a staggering 57 percent of the Amazon’s 15,000 tree species face extinction if the forest continues to be cleared at current rates (image credit: inhabitat.com)

Is the deforestation in the Amazon that bad? Yes it is, according to the latest data from Brazil’s National Space Research Institute (INPE).

Using satellite imagery, the INPE has shockingly realised that deforestation in the Amazon valley went up by 29 per cent over last year. The deforestation was very severe in the state of Amazonas which contains the largest area of primary rainforest in the country.

The report stated that from August 2015 until July 2016, the world’s largest rainforest lost about 8,000 square kilometres of land to clear cutting for cattle and soy production. That’s an area about 135 times the size of Manhattan.

The year before, it was 6,207 square kilometres, while two years ago, it was barely over 5,000 square kilometres.

Earth Innovation Institute senior scientist and Amazon expert Danial Nepstad said this was the highest deforestation figure since 2008.

“Compared to the lowest deforestation number in 2012, it means an extra 150 million tons of CO2 went up into the air through forest destruction. This is a big deal,” he said.

Greenpeace Amazon campaigner Cristiane Mazzetti suggested that the increase in deforestation rates can be linked to signals from Brazil’s government that it will tolerate the destruction of the Amazon.

“In recent years, public environmental protection policies in Brazil have weakened. For example, very few protected areas and Indigenous Lands have been created and a new Forest Code was approved in 2012 that gives amnesty to those who committed illegal deforestation,” she said.

At 5,500,000 square kilometres, the Amazon rainforest represents over half of the planet's remaining rainforests. Deforestation and the degradation of forests contribute between 8 and 15 per cent of the global greenhouse gas emissions.

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