Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest fell by 31% in the first five months after President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva’s government took office, from January to May, compared with the same period in 2022, they show data released yesterday Wednesday by the Ministry of the Environment.

The data, collected by the satellites of Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE), show that 1,986 square kilometers were deforested in the January-May period, compared to 2,867 in the corresponding period of 2022, when Jáich Bolsonaro (far right) was president.

The ministry also spoke of a 10% reduction in deforestation in May compared to the corresponding month in 2022 (812 square kilometers, compared to 900 in May last year).

Following his victory over Mr Bolsonaro in the second round of the presidential election, President Lula (centre-left) pledged to make protecting the Amazon rainforest a priority.

During his predecessor’s tenure, average annual deforestation in the Amazon forest increased by 75% compared to the previous decade.

On Monday, on the occasion of World Environment Day, President Lula presented in Brasilia a new plan to combat illegal deforestation, promising to eliminate the phenomenon by 2030.

“Brazil, especially thanks to the Amazon forest, is of great importance for the climate balance of the planet (…) to prevent deforestation [τροπικού δάσους του] Amazon means that we are helping to reduce global warming,” he explained.

The plan, which defines several hundred objectives, foresees, among other things, the immediate confiscation of half of the zones where illegal exploitations take place (agricultural, livestock, mining, logging…). By 2027, it is planned to designate protected areas with a total area of ​​some 30,000,000 hectares.

Despite the encouraging figures announced yesterday, the real test for the Lula government will begin in the coming months, during the dry season, when both deforestation and fires in the Amazon reach their peak.

Besides, the new president suffered heavy defeats recently in the parliament.

The Brazilian national delegation deprived the Ministry of Environment of its responsibilities regarding the cadastre, the surveillance of agricultural lands, a necessary tool to combat deforestation.

While the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples lost the responsibility to designate new protected indigenous areas, which are seen as a breakwater of deforestation.