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FAO: Brazil was the country that lost the most forest in the 21st century

Border between soybean cultivation area and the Amazon rainforest in Mato Grosso Image: Paulo Whitaker

Brazil has been the country that most lost forest cover in the world in absolute terms, since the beginning of the 21st century. The data were published by FAO this Tuesday and indicate that 52 million hectares of vegetation have been deforested.

The data, however, refer to the period between 2000 and 2018 and do not include the years of Jair Bolsonaro’s government, when deforestation would have been even greater.

In percentage terms and compared to the territory, other countries are in a more serious situation, such as Paraguay, which lost 16% of its forest area in two decades.

But the sheer numbers about Brazil reinforce fears among international leaders that, given current government policy, deforestation rates may be even more accelerated.

The government’s behavior has been the target of hard questioning by international investors and even by the EU. Several governments of the Old Continent and even the European Parliament have already indicated that they will not follow up the trade agreement between Mercosur and the EU if the Brazilian environmental situation is maintained.

According to the European press, Brussels is already in negotiations with Brazil and other Mercosur countries to negotiate environmental commitments and, thus, ensure that the agreement negotiated for 20 years can be ratified.

But FAO data reveal that forest cover in Brazil went from 551 million hectares in 2000 to 511.5 million in 2010. In the following decade, the fall was less. But still, the total forest reached 499 million hectares in 2018.

In the same period, the agricultural area increased from 228 million hectares to 236 million hectares. Areas for other purposes increased from 56 hectares to 99 million hectares.

Among the continents, FAO’s finding is that Europe is the region that maintains the largest area of ​​its territory with forest cover: 46%. In the Americas, the rate is 41%.

The data also shows that more than half of all land (54%) in Asia is occupied by agriculture, compared with 45% in Oceania, 38% in Africa, 30% in the Americas and 21% in Europe.

“Both Africa and the Americas converted forest land into agricultural land and / or other land. Europe and Asia were the only regions that had expansion of forest land along with the reduction of agricultural land from 2000 to 2018,” said FAO .

In absolute terms, China has seen the largest increase in its forest, with an extra 39 million hectares in 18 years.

In proportional terms, the biggest increases in the forest area between 2000 and 2018 occurred in Vietnam (+9 percentage points), Cuba (+9 percentage points) and Fiji (+7 percentage points).

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