Brazil’s Institute for Space Research (INPE) has reported record monthly Amazon rainforest clearance for April.

A total of 1,012km2, an area bigger than either counties Louth, Dublin or Carlow, was cleared in the first 29 days of the month, a record. This compares with an area of 580km2 in April 2021.

This brings the level of clearance to 1,954km2 for the first four months of the year, another record in recent times. This is an increase of almost 70% on the 1,153km2 cleared in the first four months of 2021.

The continued rainforest clearance will make ratification of the Mercosur trade agreement by the EU more difficult. At the time of its agreement almost three years ago, then Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan assured the Irish Farmers Journal that the agreement was conditional not just on Brazil ceasing rainforest clearance, but accepting a major replanting programme.

Earlier this year, the Brazilian government announced a 30-year national fertiliser plan aimed at reducing dependence on imports.

The plan involves mining in the sensitive Amazon area, with the government saying that risks would be mitigated as far as possible in environmentally sensitive areas, but exceptions had to be made to facilitate the development of fertiliser production.

Rainforest clearance has increased significantly in recent years under the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro, who is seeking re-election in October this year.