Rainforest destruction surges in Brazil
by Alan Harten
February 28, 2008
In a statement on Wednesday, the Brazilian government has said that destruction of the Amazon rainforest has surged during the last 5 months of 2007. This announcement comes only weeks after the same government were claiming that it was making substantial progress in curbing deforestation in the Amazon.
During August last year 94 square miles of the rainforest were destroyed, but four months later, in December that figure had risen to an alarming 366 square miles. The rainforest is deemed to be essential for global health, due to its ability to exchange of greenhouse gases for oxygen.
That is a fourfold increase over the same period in 2004; the government also said that it did not have data to compare 2005 and 2006.
Gilberto Camera, the head of the National Institute for Space Research (Inept), stated: “We’ve never before detected such a high deforestation rate at this time of year,”
In the period from August to December 2007 approximately 1,250 square miles of rainforest was lost in Brazil. The environment ministry also said that these figures were only preliminary. And once all the satellite images had been analysed it was quite probable that figure would actually double.
Joao Paulo Capobianco, the ministry’s executive secretary, Joao Paulo Capobianco stated the figures were: “extremely worrying.”
All this is very embarrassing for President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who at the end of last year was boasting that Brazil had now reduced deforestation by a massive 50% in just two years.
At that time the government said that controls of legal and illegal logging operations, and clearer land ownership certificates were reducing deforestation. Conservation groups are warning that recent large increases in food prices, would lead to farmers and ranch owners cutting deeper into the Amazon to provide cheap land for food production.
Environment Minister Silva has announced that the government will make a decision on Thursday about introducing new measures to slow down deforestation of the Amazon
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