Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon hits a tragic record in 2022

RIO DE JANEIRO – Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon in the first half of 2022 broke all records, a measure of the mounting destruction taking place underneath Jair Bolsonaro’s presidency.

Satellite images taken between January and June show that 4,000 square kilometers (1,500 sq mi) of forest has been destroyed, more than in any six-month period in the seven years recorded by the current method. The extent is four times the size of New York City.

What makes the statistic even more remarkable is that deforestation occurs during the rainy season. Deforestation is historically higher in the drier second half of the year, when it’s easier to reach remote areas on the region’s dirt roads.

Presidential elections are also held in Brazil in October, which typically limits law enforcement in the Amazon. Bolsonaro will run for a second term of 4 years. He is currently trailing ex-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in polls.


The area devastated in the first half of 2022 is 80% larger than the same period in 2018, the year before Bolsonaro took office, according to analysis by the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM), a Brazilian nonprofit.

According to the IPAM analysis, around half of the logging took place on public land. The pattern in Brazil is that criminals confiscate public lands in anticipation that the lands will be legalized for agriculture or ranching in the future.

Other illegal real estate and timber transactions, as well as a lack of enforcement, are contributing to rising rates of deforestation, according to Ane Alencar, IPAM’s director of science.

“Those who control the Amazon don’t want it to be preserved,” Alencar told the Associated Press in a phone interview. “The standing forest has no value in today’s Amazon.”

The most predatory cut took place in the state of Amazonas, overtaking both Para and Mato Grosso, which historically have seen more tree losses. This is a worrying trend as the Amazon is deep in the rainforest and has remained untouched compared to other Amazon regions.



The Associated Press’s climate and environmental reporting is supported by several private foundations. Learn more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Sarah Y. Kim

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