Under Lula, Amazon Deforestation Is Down by a Third

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Last month, the president announced a plan for Brazil to end illegal deforestation by 2030.

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva campaigned on a promise to stop the deforestation of the Amazon that had accelerated under former president Jair Bolsonaro. The early results are promising.

Deforestation dropped 33.6 percent during the first six months of Lula’s term, according to government satellite data released this week. The new data present a marked change from the beginning of Lula’s administration: In March, three months after he took office, deforestation was up 66 percent over the previous year.

Lula’s administration has attempted to thwart illegal logging by seizing illegally raised cattle and imposing financial sanctions on forest-destroying landowners. But some loggers and cattle ranchers are still chopping away at the erstwhile carbon sink. Experts say that to end deforestation Brazil will need to reorient its economy away from cattle farming, which requires land to graze, and toward goods like acai and the fish pirarucu. That will be a big transformation, but putting a dent in the rate of rainforest loss is a solid start.

Last month, Lula announced his plan for Brazil to end illegal deforestation by 2030, three years after the end of his term. For the plan to work, a like-minded individual would have to succeed Lula—and, as The New Republic reported, Lula might have to make some environmental concessions to promote the country’s economic interests and stave off a right-wing resurgence. For now, the Amazon is gearing up for a severe fire season, and deforestation continues, albeit at a slower rate than before.

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