Deforestation climbs in Brazil's savanna

Scientists say one of the most biodiverse areas on Earth has seen a surge in deforestation.

The Cerrado savanna spreads across several states in Brazil and on Monday, experts raised alarm over its survival.

It's often called an "upside-down forest" because of the plants' deep roots, which sink into the ground to help survive seasonal droughts and fires.

Deforestation of native vegetation rose 8% in a year ending last July according to Brazil's national space research agency.

That's roughly ten times the size of New York City.

Geographer Manuel Ferreira says trees in the Cerrado are disappearing with exceptional speed.

"In very few places around the world have we we've had such a fast and intense transformation in the last three or four decades."

The savanna is also a major carbon sink and its destruction is a major source of Brazil's greenhouse gas emissions.

Amazon Environmental Research Institute director Ane Alencar points the finger at Brazili's President Jair Bolsonaro who has called for more farming in sensitive ecosystems.

"Deforestation is the most naked and raw indicator of the terrible environmental policy of this (President Jair Bolsonaro) government."

The president's office did not respond to a request for comment.

Bolsonaro has previously defended his policies as a means to lift the interior of the country out of poverty and says Brazil has preserved far more of its territory than Europe or the U.S.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting