Native Village Youth and Education News
February 1, 2009 Issue 194 Volume 4


Group: Amazon deforestation drops in late 2008; good enforcement, bad economy cited
By MARCO SIBAJA, Associated Press Writer

Brazil: Deforestation in the Amazon dropped sharply in late 2008, a Brazilian environmental group said Friday. The government credited improved law enforcement, but environmentalists say a slowing economy likely contributed.

The Imazon environmental group said satellite images showed that
 635 square kilometers (245 square miles) of forest an area about the size of Chicago vanished in the last 5 months of 2008,
down from
3,433 square kilometers (1,325 square miles) for the same 5 months of 2007
That was a drop of

Environment Minister Carlos Minc attributed the improvement to increased government vigilance and to policies such as cutting off loans to farmers, ranchers and loggers who have illegally cleared land.

"It's an important drop but we're not celebrating," Minc told reporters. "The level of deforestation is still unacceptable."

But environmentalists suggested that there was less pressure for cleared forest land because the global financial crisis has cut demand for wood, soy and cattle the three main products that spark illegal logging.

"In the past, every time there has been a global economic slump or a Brazilian slump, deforestation has immediately slowed," said Charles Roland Clement, a senior researcher at the government's National Institute for Amazon Research.

The government's National Institute for Space Research said it would not release its own new deforestation survey until the end of February because researchers want to more closely examine images in which there was significant cloud cover.

Before the deforestation slowdown in the last half of 2008, Imazon said

The Amazon was losing the equivalent of one-and-a-half American football fields of forest every 60 seconds to logging, ranching and farming.
20 % of the forest, which covers an area larger than Western Europe, has been destroyed.

When Amazon trees are felled by loggers or burned, they release an estimated 400,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually, making deforestation one of the country's top sources of emissions.,1,5953709.story


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