Last week, the Brazilian government reduced the budget for the Ministry of the Environment by 43 percent and the federal science budget by 44 percent.
According to the conservation news website Mongabay, scientists and environmental groups fear that these budget cuts could hinder efforts to stem deforestation.
Brazil accounts for nearly two-thirds of the Amazon rainforest, the world’s largest tropical forest. After several years of decline, deforestation — driven by beef, soy and timber industries — appears to be increasing again.
Between August 2015 and July 2016, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon increased by 29 percent over the previous year, making it the highest deforestation level recorded in the region since 2008. Forest area about 135 times the size of Manhattan was cut down in just one year.
Although Brazil recently announced its plans to restore 30 million acres of deforested and degraded forest land by 2030, Brazil’s Environmental Protection Agency, which works to prevent deforestation of the Amazon, is already severely cash-strapped.
Paulo Barreto, a senior researcher with environmental monitoring group Imazon, said to Climate Wire, “The combination of budget cuts and other management decisions, especially with reducing protected areas, it’s likely to increase deforestation.”