As incoming President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva works to reestablish protection for the vital rainforest, new government data reveals that deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has decreased in the 12 months up through July.

11,568 sq km (4,466 sq miles) or more of Brazilian Amazon forest cover was lost between August 2021 and July 2022, according to statistics from the national space agency (INPE) released on Wednesday, Nov. 30, Al Jazeera reported.

When compared to the same time last year, when Brazil's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro was in office, deforestation had decreased by 11% since then.

According to environmentalists, Bolsonaro managed the Amazon in a catastrophic manner for four years during which time he was accused of undermining Indigenous and environmental conservation organizations in favor of agri-business and mining interests.

According to INPE data, average yearly deforestation increased under the former army captain by 75.5 percent over the previous decade and by 59.5 percent during the preceding four years.

Lula, a left-wing politician who prevailed in a close election last month, has vowed to stop all deforestation as soon as he takes office on Jan. 1.

Senator-elect Flavio Dino of Brazil, who is serving as Lula's transition team's public security director, informed the media on Wednesday that the incoming administration would establish a new federal police unit specializing in environmental crimes.

The planned unit, according to Dino, would take a comprehensive picture of crimes in the Amazon, where gang violence, illegal mining, deforestation, and drug trafficking are frequently intertwined.

Under Bolsonaro indigenous leaders had expressed concern about the dangers to their communities in the Brazilian Amazon, particularly in regions with little government oversight that farmers, miners, and poachers are trying to take control of and exploit.

Last year, 226 Indigenous lands in 22 Brazilian states were the targets of 305 cases of "invasions, illegal exploitation of resources, and damage to property," according to the Indigenous Missionary Council.

That was up from 109 such incidents in 2018, the year before Bolsonaro took office, a 180 percent increase.

In locations where Amazon deforestation is taking place, Lula could encounter fierce political opposition. He must also deal with the difficulty of policing such vast, often remote areas.

Lula Amazon Rainforest Policy Rep. Pic
Representation image. Ivars Utināns/Unsplash.

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