Deforestation in Brazil has reached its peak in the month of November since it first began in 2015, according to the preliminary government data published on Friday. Destruction of the Amazon rainforest totalled 563 square kilometres in November which is 103 per cent more than in the same month last year, according to the country's space research agency INPE.
The researchers and environmentalists have blamed the right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro for encouraging industrialist, ranchers and loggers by calling for the Amazon to be developed. They have also blamed him for weakening the environmental agency Ibama and destructing the world's largest tropical rainforest. On the other hand, Bolsonaro and Environment Minister Ricardo Salles have blamed the previous governments for the increase in deforestation, saying policies including budget cuts at environmental agencies were in place well before the new government took office on January 1.
The data released by INPE was collected through the DETER database which is a system that publishes alerts on fires and other types of developments affecting the rainforest. The DETER numbers are not considered official deforestation data. The official data comes from a different system called PRODES which is also managed by INPE. PRODES numbers, released last month showed deforestation rose to its highest in more than a decade this year, jumping 30 per cent from 2018 to 9,762 square kilometres.
Last month, Human Rights Watch accused the Brazilian president of giving a 'green light' to illegal loggers to destroy the Amazon and failing to protect those defending the world's largest rain forest. Bolsonaro, whose anti-environment rhetoric and policies have been widely blamed for a spike in fires and land clearing in the Amazon this year, has promised to open up the remote region to more development even as he faces growing international criticism. Bolsonaro also accused actor Leonardo DiCaprio of donating $500,000 to a group that he said started the fires in the ecologically sensitive Amazon Forest. DiCaprio however, denied the allegations.