Despite the election of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who has made his pro-environmental policies clear during the U.N. climate talks in Egypt last month, the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest is reported to have increased sharply during the month of November.

Surveillance from Brazil’s national space institute showed that over 214 square miles were cleared during the month of November, said to be 60% above the month’s average deforestation and more than double the amount that occurred the November of last year, according to Mongbay.

Most concerning during this time period are aerial photographs of what environmentalists are calling the “Road to Chaos,” a 75-mile road carved in the middle of an indigenous territory in Brazil’s Amazon that’s reportedly focused on smuggling excavators to the protected lands of the Yanomami, The Guardian reported.

The size of the destruction was described by Greenpeace environmentalist Danicley de Aguiar as the group shows the havoc to journalists, which include four excavators working on digging through the Yanomami’s lands for gold.

Indigenous leader Sônia Guajajara claimed that these politically-connected mining gangs had used everyone’s focus on the recent Presidential elections to smuggle the excavators in, which was seen destroying nearby territory during the reconnaissance mission of the environmentalists.

The wildcat prospectors of gold, called the garimpeiros, were initially encouraged to mine on the lands of the Yanomami before international pressure forced the government to convert it to protected lands. But as lax enforcement and soaring gold prices continued during the past decade, many were enticed to return to the protected lands to dig for gold.

“It’s astonishing. You’re in the lap of this great forest and it’s almost as if you’re in one those old films about ancient Egypt…All those monstrous machines destroying the earth to make money,” photographer João Laet said.

The overall deforestation happening in the Amazon appeared to have increased this year to 10,049 square kilometers in the past 11 months, considered the largest amount of loss in the Amazon since at least 2008.

Many are hoping to reverse course on the Amazon’s destruction now that Lula da Silva has been elected president. His first two terms in office presided over a significant decline in the destruction of the rainforest, and he has made promises during the campaign and during the COP27 climate talks in Egypt to lessen the deforestation and help take care of the Amazon.

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

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