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Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon Fell in Half Last Year

Forest loss in the Brazilian Amazon was down 50 percent, year on year, in 2023, according to government figures.

Under far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who left office at the end of 2022, deforestation in the Amazon reached a 15-year high. His successor, the left-wing Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has stepped up enforcement, curbing forest clearing by farmers and ranchers.

Last year saw the loss of 1,989 square miles of Brazilian rainforest, an area slightly larger than London, a drop from 3,963 square miles in 2022. The new left-wing government in neighboring Colombia has made similar progress in slowing the destruction of the Amazon.

Amid rising temperatures, however, the Amazon remains threatened by worsening drought and fire, particularly on degraded lands. In June, the number of fires in the Amazon reached its highest level in 16 years.

The crackdown on forest-clearing in the Brazilian Amazon has also increased pressure on other regions. Facing greater law enforcement in the rainforest, many soy farmers have sought to expand their operations in the dry Cerrado region. Last year, forest loss in the Cerrado rose by 43 percent, with 3,022 square miles destroyed.

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