Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon falls to lowest level in five years

Recent official figures from the Brazilian Institute of Space Research show that Brazil lost 9,001 km2 of Amazon rainforest between August 2020 and July 2023. This is the lowest level since 2018, and a reduction of 22.3% compared to last year.

INSPECTION: Inspection vehicles of IPAAM, ( Institute of Environmental Protection of the Amazonas State ), escorted by military police, travel along a side-road in search of a recent deforestation area in the municipality of Apui, in southern Amazonas in 2020. Photo: Lalo de Almeida/ Folhapress

By Chris Lyngaas.

The deforestation figures were published by the Brazilian Institute of Space Research, INPE, on Thursday, 9 November.

Lula has achieved very good results less than a year into his presidency. The decrease in deforestation over the past year shows that Brazil is now back at the same levels of deforestation seen before Bolsonaro took power in 2019.

"This is a victory for Lula, who has promised zero deforestation by 2030. This is clear proof that politics works", says Toerris Jaeger, executive director of Rainforest Foundation Norway.

Cross cutting efforts lead to results

The decrease in deforestation is the result of a cross-cutting effort by the federal government of Brazil to control deforestation. Measures such as the cancellation of private land claims, confiscation of cattle that have grazed in indigenous territories and destruction of machinery used for illegal deforestation have contributed to combating forest loss. Good cooperation between federal and state authorities has increased the impact of these targeted operations.

Calls for increased support

"Lula still faces major challenges. Organized crime has gained a foothold in the most remote areas of the Amazon. Without further measures, Lula will not be able to reach the zero deforestation target. Brazil's ambitious work towards zero deforestation is completely dependent on support from countries such as Norway, and that support must happen now", says Toerris Jaeger, executive director of Rainforest Foundation Norway.

Lula also faces opposition in parts of the Brazilian Congress, where Brazil's agrobusiness lobby is highly influential and is lobbying to expand access to land for grazing and farming.

These positive deforestation numbers will be presented by the Brazilian government at the upcoming UN Climate COP28, starting 30 November in Dubai. They are likely to be accompanied by an appeal to the international community for more financial support to stop the destruction of the world’s largest rainforest.

"We must use this momentum to increase support from Norway and other international stakeholders towards helping Brazil reach its goal of zero deforestation. This support should combine a robust endorsement of the Amazon Fund with increased support to civil society in Brazil, a critical factor in sustaining the legitimacy of Lula’s efforts while confronting policy setbacks in Congress", says Toerris Jaeger, executive director of Rainforest Foundation Norway.

Ellen Hestnes Ribeiro

Team Leader, Brazil Program
(+47) 402 81 386