Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon Falls 57% in Sept.

SAO PAULO (Reuters) — Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest fell 56.8% in September compared to a year earlier, government data showed on Oct. 6, while the region is struggling with a historic drought.

The total area cleared in the Amazon in the first nine months of the year fell 49.5%, according to preliminary data from Brazilian space research agency INPE.

Ending illegal deforestation is a priority of Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s administration both internationally and domestically, after destruction in the rainforest surged under his predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro.

In September, Brazil’s Environment Minister Marina Silva announced at the United Nations Summit in New York more ambitious climate targets for the country.

Deforestation and fires usually spike in the Amazon in August and September, when the weather turns drier. Fires in the region last month fell 36%, improving from the worst September in more than a decade in 2022.

The upbeat data, however, comes at a time when the Amazon is suffering from its worst drought in the last 40 years, which increases the risk of wildfires.

The drought has led water levels of key rivers of the region to fall and hindered local communities’ access to food and drinking supplies.

Last month, Switzerland and the United States donated $8.4 million to Brazil’s Amazon Fund to help preserve the world’s largest tropical rainforest.