Deforestation in the Amazon dropped 34% within the first six months of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s term as Brazil’s president, according to data released Thursday from Brazil’s national space research agency Inpe.

Reuters said deforestation in the Amazon hasn’t been this low in four years, with data showing 1,023 square miles of rainforest were cleared, equivalent to three times the size of New York City.

Daniel Silva, an analyst at the nonprofit environment education program WWF-Brasil, told Reuters, “It’s very positive, but we continue to have very high levels of deforestation.”

The data comes from a system called Deter, which focuses on detecting deforestation in real-time, while the most accurate deforestation data is released annually through a separate system called Prodes, The Associated Press said.

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Deforestation in Brazil

“Environment Minister Marina Silva said in a press briefing that the fall in deforestation was a direct result of the Lula (da Silva) government quickly ramping up resources for environmental enforcement,” per Reuters.

Last month, Politico reported on the Brazilian president’s plan to end illegal deforestation in Brazil, which will take four years and includes a goal of achieving net-zero deforestation by replanting however much is being cut down.

Lula said, “Brazil will once again become a global reference in sustainability, tackling climate change, and achieving targets for carbon emission reduction and zero deforestation,” according to Politico.

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BBC reported that 3,075 fires were detected in the Amazon, the highest number of fires since 2007.

“Brazil is the world’s fifth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, with almost 3% of global emissions, according to Climate Watch, an online platform managed by World Resources Institute. Almost half of Brazil’s carbon emissions come from deforestation,” per Politico.

João Paulo Capobianco, the Environment Ministry’s executive secretary, said during a presentation, “The effort of reversing the curve of growth has been reached. That is a fact: we reversed the curve; deforestation isn’t increasing,” per the AP.

Since being elected, Lula has “decreed six new indigenous reserves, banning mining and restricting commercial farming there,” and “vowed to reverse policies” of his predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, BBC said.

According to CNN, Brazil’s president:

  • Didn’t learn to read until he was 10.
  • Joined politics because he believed there was a lack of political representation for the working class.
  • Left school to work full time when he was in the fifth grade.