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Illegal deforestation destroyed nearly 1,900 FIFA football fields a day in the Amazon jungle in 2019

A study released Tuesday revealed that as many as 2,100 acres – the equivalent of 1,900 football pitches – were destroyed every day in 2019 due to illegal deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest.

The Amazon lost approximately 160,000 hectares of rainforest due to deforestation. Meanwhile, the Cerrado Biome, the largest savanna region in South America, has the second highest deforestation rate with 1,119.6 acres of forest land illegally destroyed last year.

The nonprofit MapBiomas annual report indicated that only 0.5 percent of deforestation across Brazil was considered legal.

Satellite images acquired by MapBiomas show how quickly deforestation of an Amazon rainforest area takes place between May 8 and May 29, 2019

Satellite images acquired by MapBiomas show how quickly deforestation of an Amazon rainforest area takes place between May 8 and May 29, 2019

Illegal deforestation in the Amazon jungle destroyed 21 football fields a day in 2019

Illegal deforestation in the Amazon jungle destroyed 21 football fields a day in 2019

Illegal deforestation in the Amazon jungle destroyed 21 football fields a day in 2019

MapBiomas report also revealed that 15.6 percent of deforestation occurred on native lands and nature conservation units.

Tasso Azevedo, the project director, told the Brazilian news agency G1 that deforestation in areas like Pampa [1.8 hectares per day], Mata Atlãntica [29 hectares per day], Caatinga [33.3 hectares per day]and Pantanal [45.3 hectares per day] was difficult to judge due to the different systems used to issue alerts.

The study found that in 2019, more than half of Brazil’s deforested areas were in the states of Pará [299,000 hectares), Mato Grosso [202,000 hectares] and Amazonas [126,000 hectares].

The Amazon is the world’s largest tropical rainforest, and scientists say its conservation is vital to counter global warming because of the huge amount of greenhouse gas it absorbs.

A September 17, 2019 aerial view shows a deforested plot of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest near Porto Velho, a city in the state of Rondonia

A September 17, 2019 aerial view shows a deforested plot of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest near Porto Velho, a city in the state of Rondonia

A September 17, 2019 aerial view shows a deforested plot of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest near Porto Velho, a city in the state of Rondonia

The destruction of the Amazon rose to an 11-year high last year and continues to rise in 2020, blaming environmentalists for the policies of right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, who has encouraged illegal loggers, miners and farmers.

According to Human Rights Watch, the fines for illegal deforestation have been practically frozen since October due to an order from Bolsonaro to review the fines during hearings. Since the edict was signed, there have only been five hearings against individuals or groups fined for deforestation.

“Environmental agents have worked hard – often exposed to significant risks – to uphold the rule of law and environmental laws in Brazil, but see their efforts sabotaged by the Bolsonaro government,” said Maria Laura Canineu, director of Human Rights Watch in Brazil.

“The violent criminal networks that destroy the Amazon rainforest and Brazilians’ right to a healthy environment will not be deterred by fines that do not have to pay in practice.”

Most, about 60 percent, of the Amazon rainforest is located in Brazil, the largest province in South America.

It is also the epicenter of the Latin American COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 10,000 deaths in the country already.

Photo taken on September 17, 2019 shows clouds of smoke during a fire in an area of ​​the Amazon rainforest near Porto Velho

Photo taken on September 17, 2019 shows clouds of smoke during a fire in an area of ​​the Amazon rainforest near Porto Velho

Photo taken on September 17, 2019 shows clouds of smoke during a fire in an area of ​​the Amazon rainforest near Porto Velho

An aerial photo taken on September 2, 2019 shows tree trunks illegally cut from the Amazon rainforest in the Brazilian state of Pará

An aerial photo taken on September 2, 2019 shows tree trunks illegally cut from the Amazon rainforest in the Brazilian state of Pará

An aerial photo taken on September 2, 2019 shows tree trunks illegally cut from the Amazon rainforest in the Brazilian state of Pará

Last year, in Mr. Bolsonaro’s first year, deforestation increased by 85 percent to a 11-year high, according to data from the Brazilian Space Research Institute (INPE).

International outrage forced the Brazilian president, a well-known climate change skeptic who advocates opening protected areas for mining and agriculture.

He deployed the military to mitigate damage from forest fires, illegal logging, mining, and agriculture on protected lands.

As of today, the military is once again empowered to intervene and attempt to prevent damage to the world’s major carbon sink.

However, the armed forces have only received permission to tackle fires and deforestation.

This, said Dr. Erika Berenguer, ecologist at Oxford and Lancaster universities, does not address the root cause of the problem.

‘[It] is like when I use acetaminophen because I have a toothache: it will reduce the pain, but if it is a hole it will not cure it, “she said.

The Amazon is the world’s largest tropical rainforest, and scientists say its conservation is vital to counter global warming because of the huge amount of greenhouse gas it absorbs.

Indigenous people of the Mura tribe show a deforested area in unmarked indigenous lands, in the Amazon rainforest near Humaita, Amazonas, Brazil, August 20, 2019

Indigenous people of the Mura tribe show a deforested area in unmarked indigenous lands, in the Amazon rainforest near Humaita, Amazonas, Brazil, August 20, 2019

Indigenous people of the Mura tribe show a deforested area in unmarked indigenous lands, in the Amazon rainforest near Humaita, Amazonas, Brazil, August 20, 2019

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