Destruction of Brazil's Amazon rainforests at record 12-year high

Deforestation and fires in Brazil's Amazon has hit its highest level in 12 years, according to official data.

Some 11,088 square-km - the equivalent to twice the size of Rio de Janeiro - was deforested between July 2019 and August 2020, according to the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research.

It was up 9.6% from the previous 12 months and the highest increase in 12 years.

Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourao, who coordinates government efforts to reduce environmental crimes, claimed an estimation had said the rise could have been as much as 20%.

"The estimate we had was even more negative than this result we are presenting," Mr Mourao said. "But 9.6% is not a (number) to celebrate."

Credit: AP

He added: "Our desire is not to have illegal deforestation by any chance inside the Amazon. This is what we are fighting for."

The deforestation of the Amazon has drawn worldwide attention, including expressions of concern by U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, who suggested the creation of a fund to stop the rainforest's destruction.

Mourao said Biden knew Brazil well and said dialogue on the matter would begin with his new US administration "without major problems".

Between July 16 and August 15 this year, more than 20,000 fires were recorded in the Amazon region in spite of a ban.

In July, Brazilian President Jose Bolsanaro, under pressure from global investors, imposed a 120-day ban on Amazon burning during the dry season.

However, satellite data showed 15,000 fires occurred in the Amazon in the first two weeks of August.