Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon in November surged by 104 per cent compared to the same month in 2018, according to official data released Saturday.
The 563 square kilometres (217 square miles) deforested that month is also the highest number for any November since 2015, according to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE), which provides official data on deforestation.
That is considered a significant increase, particularly during the rainy season, when deforestation generally slows.
For the first 11 months of the year – also the first months in office of Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right leader who has eased restrictions on exploiting the Amazon’s vast riches – deforestation totalled 8,974.3 square kilometres.
That is nearly twice the 4,878.7 square kilometres reported for the first 11 months of 2018.
The data was collected by the satellite-based DETER system, which monitors deforestation in real time.
Another satellite-based system used by the INPE known as PRODES, considered more reliable but slower to compile data, reported in late November that in the 12 months beginning August 2018, deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon had passed the 10,000 square kilometre threshold for the first time since 2008.
That represented a 43 per cent increase from the preceding 12-month period.
Deforestation in indigenous areas rose even faster, by 74.5 per cent from the preceding period, INPE reported.
Overall, PRODES showed that the world’s largest tropical forest lost 10,100 square kilometres in that 12-month period, compared to 7,033 square kilometres in the previous 12 months.
On Friday, Ricardo Galvao, INPE’s former president, was named one of the 10 most important scientists of the year by the respected British journal Nature.
In early August he was fired by the Bolsonaro government, which accused him of exaggerating the extent of deforestation.