São Paulo - Brazilian government is taking advantage of two different systems to fool the public
The today officially announced decline of the Amazon deforestation by 18 % in 2013/2014 are good news and disproves the suspicion that the opposite, increased deforestation, might be the case.
The government was hiding information during the pre-election period in recent months in order to avoid negative impacts on the candidacy of Dilma Rousseff. Withheld was among other information the monthly data of the Deter system, which uses satellite images to support the surveillance operations of Brazil's environmental protection agency Ibama.
The Deter system is a lot less accurate than the now published annual data of the Prodes system. According to the government, Deter was not developed to measure deforestation, but has been used to show monthly tendencies until the annual figures are available.
Fact is that the Deter numbers for August and September have still not been made public, despite of the ministry of environment's announcement to issue them today together with the Prodes results.
The newspaper Folha de São Paulo has stated on the 8th of November that deforestation rates in the Amazon have risen drastically during the final run-up to the elections in August and September. According to them, 1,626 square kilometres of forest had been destroyed, 122 % more than in the same time period of the previous year. The government did neither confirm nor deny these figures. This indicates that the ministry of environment might be taking advantage of both systems in order to create the impression that deforestation is still decreasing. In fact, the data from both systems covers different time periods.
The Prodes figures cover the twelve months between August 2013 and July 2014, whereas the Deter numbers refer to the following two months. Hence this arouses the suspicion that the government is trying to fool the public by publishing the good news about a decline in deforestation while hiding the information about a new recent increase. Evidence for that will however only be available once the Prodes number for 2014-2015 are out. Meanwhile environmental minister Izabella Teixera will have to deal with future Minister for Agriculture Katia Abreu, who is using her influential position as senator of the Tocantin state to promote Agribusiness, chemical plant protection agents and gen-manipulated corn.