Bolsonaro or Lula: in which government was the deforestation rate in the Amazon higher?


One of the topics to be highlighted during the first debate of the second round of the 2022 elections was the deforestation of the Amazon.

In the second block, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) stated that the current government is “playing at deforesting, ‘opening fences’, cutting down trees.”

“We are going to win the elections to be able to take care of the Amazon and not allow the invasion of indigenous lands and illegal mining.”

President Jair Bolsonaro (PL), candidate for re-election, countered and asked viewers to do an internet search.

“Google: ‘deforestation from 2003 to 2006’, in the four years of Lula’s government. Then search ‘deforestation from 2019 to 2022′”, he said.

Looking at Lula, Bolsonaro added: “During your government, twice as much was deforested as in mine.”

But what does the data say?

In fact, the total area of ​​forest destroyed during the first three years of Lula’s government was greater compared to the same period of Bolsonaro in office — but the rate of deforestation was significantly reduced and reached historic lows between 2006 and 2015, especially during the period in which Dilma Rousseff (PT) assumed the Presidency.

To give you an idea, the area deforested per year dropped practically five times between 2003 and 2015.

On the other hand, the numbers have risen again more recently, with a new acceleration of deforestation between the governments of Michel Temer (MDB) and Bolsonaro.

Between 2016 and 2021, the area destroyed each year nearly doubled.

Check out what the numbers on deforestation in the Amazon show below.

brake and accelerator

Official information on the destruction of areas of the Amazon Forest comes from the Prodes Project, which is conducted by the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe), linked to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.

The agency has been monitoring it by satellite since 1988 and the data obtained serve as a basis for the government to update public policies related to the region and environmental preservation.

In absolute numbers, it is possible to verify that the area deforested in the Amazon in 2003, the first year of the Lula government, was 25,300 square kilometers.

The following year, the area destroyed grew to 27,700 km².

From 2005, however, there was a drop in these indices.

There were 19 thousand km² that year, followed by 14.2 thousand (2006), 11.6 thousand (2007), 12.9 thousand (2008), 7.4 thousand (2009) and 7 thousand (2010).

In other words, over the PT’s two terms, the deforestation rate dropped by 67%.

The numbers continued to decline during the government of Dilma Rousseff: the year with the least deforestation in the Amazon in the historical series was 2012, when 4,500 km² were devastated.

Since then, the area destroyed has only expanded: with the exception of 2014 and 2017, all recent years have seen an increase in INPE rates.

And what specifically has happened since Bolsonaro took office?

In the first year of the current government, in 2019, the deforested area was 10,100 km².

The indices continued to rise in 2020 (10.8 thousand km²) and in 2021 (13 thousand km²). Data for 2022 is not yet available.

In other words: the deforestation rate rose 73% in the first three years of Bolsonaro’s administration.

Another consideration made by environmentalists involves the legacy each president received from the previous administration.

Deforestation in 2002, when the president was still Fernando Henrique Cardoso (PSDB), was 21,600 km².

In 2018, the last year of Michel Temer (MDB) in the Presidency, 7,500 km² of forest were destroyed – a proportion three times smaller.

And the other biomes?

Inpe has also carried out similar monitoring in the Cerrado since 2001.

The movement of the graphs is very similar to what happened in the Amazon: growth in the absolute area deforested during the first two years of Lula’s government (28,800 km2 in 2003, a number that was repeated in 2004) and a sustained decline between 2005 (16, 9 thousand) and 2012 (9 thousand).

The deforestation rate in this biome rose again in 2013 (13.5 thousand), but showed a further decrease between 2014 (10.9 thousand) and 2019 (6.3 thousand).

In 2020 and 2021, deforestation in the Cerrado rose again and reached 7,900 and 8,500 km², respectively.

In the Atlantic Forest, 21,600 hectares (ha) were deforested between 2020 and 2021, an increase of 66% compared to 2019 and 2020 (13,000 ha) and 90% between 2017 and 2018 (11,300 ha) , when the lowest value of the historical series was reached.

The data were compiled by the NGO SOS Mata Atlântica.

Finally, MapBiomas reveals a similar situation in the Pantanal. The devastated area increased from 24.3 thousand ha in 2018 to 31.7 thousand in 2019 and 42.8 thousand in 2020.

The lowest rate of destruction in this biome was recorded in 2015, when 23,000 ha were deforested.

This text was originally published here.

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