Group: Amazon deforestation
drops in late 2008; good
enforcement, bad economy cited
MARCO SIBAJA, Associated Press
Imazon environmental group
said satellite images showed
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 82%.
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
"It's an important drop but we're not celebrating," Minc told reporters. "The level of deforestation is still unacceptable."
"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
Amazon was losing the equivalent
American football fields
of forest every
to logging, ranching and
About 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.