The Brazilian government announced on Thursday that destruction of the Amazon rainforest in the country increased by 28 percent in a year. The rise comes after four consecutive years of declining deforestation. However, even with the increased level of forest destruction, the annual total was still the second lowest amount of deforestation in the country in 25 years.
“Environmentalists say the controversial reform of the forest protection law in 2012 is to blame for the upwards trend,” the BBC reports. “The changes reduced protected areas in farms and declared an amnesty for areas destroyed before 2008.” Environmentalists also attribute the increased deforestation to the government’s big infrastructure projects, including dams, roads and railways, according to the Associated Press. In 2009, Brazil pledged to reduce deforestation in the Amazon by 80% by 2020, according to the BBC.
Here’s more on the consequences of deforestation in Brazil from the AP:
The Amazon rainforest is considered one of the world's most important natural defenses against global warming because of its capacity to absorb huge amounts of carbon dioxide. About 75 percent of Brazil's emissions come from rainforest clearing, as vegetation burns and felled trees rot. That releases an estimated 400 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year, making Brazil at least the sixth-biggest emitter of the gas.