SAO PAULO, July 6 (Reuters) - Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon fell 34% in the first half of 2023, preliminary government data showed on Thursday, hitting its lowest level in four years as President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva institutes tougher environmental policies.
But that's an area more than three times the size of New York City, underscoring the challenge Lula faces to eliminate deforestation entirely.
"It's very positive, but we continue to have very high levels of deforestation," said Daniel Silva, an analyst at nonprofit WWF-Brasil.
Lula took office in January promising to end deforestation by 2030, after surging destruction under his predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, who had slashed environmental protection efforts.
In June alone, Inpe satellite data showed deforestation totaled 663 sq km, down 41% from the same month a year ago.
Whether annual deforestation will show a decline remains unclear, as the annual peak in deforestation and fires from July to September lies ahead.
"July tends to have an explosion in deforestation," said Joao Paulo Capobianco, Silva's deputy at the Environment Ministry. »