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2 November 2021

Why the deforestation agreement is badly needed to save the Amazon

Under Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s deforestation rate has risen to a 12-year high.

The first major agreement of Cop26 has seen 110 world leaders promise to end deforestation by 2030 – accounting for around 85 per cent of the world’s forest.

Crucially, Brazil – one of the world’s largest contributors to deforestation – was among the signatories. Official figures from Brazil’s National Institute of Space Research (INPE) show that deforestation rates have risen to a 12-year high during far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro’s presidency.

Last year saw the country’s worst level of deforestation since 2008, with around 10,900 square kilometres lost. Since Bolsonaro entered power, growth in deforestation has risen sharply – especially in the northern Pará state of the country.

Brazil has historically been one of the world’s largest sources of deforestation, which contributes to climate change by removing a “sink” of CO2. Deforestation has also helped contribute to biodiversity loss, damaging the ecosystems we rely on for survival.

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The last time a major international agreement was made (the New York Declaration on Forests in 2014), it failed, with deforestation found to be continuing at an alarming rate five years later. However, on this occasion only 40 countries signed up – and these did not include Brazil or Russia. The hope this time is that greater engagement, and funding, will lead to a higher chance of success.

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