Apr 23, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest spikes

This image is a boat going through a river in the Amazon

A boat on the Jurura river in the Carauari municipality in Brazil's Amazon forest on March 15. Photo: Florence Goisnard/AFP via Getty Images

Brazil's Amazon rainforest lost over 2,000 square miles of forest from last August through March 2020, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing satellite data gathered by Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE).

The big picture: The largest and most biodiverse rainforest on the planet, which plays an essential part in slowing global warming, has faced rapid deforestation under far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

What's happening: Deforestation recorded between August 2019 and March is double the rate for that equivalent period in 2018 and 2019, tweeted Tasso Azevedo, coordinator of MapBiomas Alert, a partnership that validates deforestation data in Brazil, on April 10.

  • "In the midst of the #COVID19 crisis, the #deforestation detected by INPE in the #Amazon between January and March 2020 reached 796 km2," Azevedo saidx.

What's new: The amount of deforestation marked between August and March beats previous records for that equivalent period in 2016 and 20-17, the WSJ reports.

  • The agency's satellite data is preliminary and full data will be out in November, but environmentalists say "the early numbers are sending an ominous signal," the WSJ notes.

Where it stands: Brazil, which saw the first confirmed COVID-19 case in Latin America, has reported over 45,000 cases of the virus and more than 2,900 deaths. Over 25,000 people have recovered from the virus in the country, per Johns Hopkins data.

Go deeper: Brazil has lost 1,330 square miles of Amazon rainforest under Bolsonaro

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