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Amazon deforestation halved in 2023

In great news for the climate, the rate of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest halved in 2023. This is the lowest rate of deforestation in 5 years for the world’s largest rainforest.

Data from national space agency Inpe, part of the Brazilian Ministry of Science, showed 5,153 sq km (1,989.6 sq miles) of the Amazon were cleared in 2023, which is down from 10,278 sq km in 2022.

The Brazilian government has committed to a stronger stance on environmental matters, promising to phase out deforestation by 2030. In January 2023 Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva took over as President of the country, with climate activist Marina Silva assuming the role of Environment Minister. Now, thanks to the leadership change there has been an acceleration towards positive climate changes. Under Lula da Silva’s predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro’s far right-wing government, deforestation had hit a 12 year high.

Amazon deforestation halved in 2023
Illegal mine from the air in Kayapó Indigenous territory. Image from Greenpeace.

The government’s green watchdog, Ibama, were key in bringing about the drop in deforestation, according to the environment ministry. Ibama have been working to turn back the destruction of the Amazon. The agency have successfully targeted illegal mining operations in the country that are helping to fuel environmental disasters.

The Amazon is often described as the lungs of the planet, due to its ability to absorb much of our atmosphere’s CO₂. In recent years though, parts of the Amazon have become a carbon source due to mass clearing of the rainforest, which often involves burning trees. The cleared land is then used for cattle ranching and agriculture.

Brazil is home to the majority of the Amazon, with over 60% of the rainforest being located there. Three million plant and animal species call the Amazon home, with over 2,500 tree species living in this mecca of diversity.

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