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  WWF 7 Dec 05
Deforestation rates decrease in the Amazon

PlanetSave 6 Dec 05
Brazil government announces 31 percent drop in Amazon destruction

PlanetArk 6 Dec 05
Brazil Says Deforestation Slows, Critics Cautious
Story by Raymond Colitt

BRASILIA - The Brazilian government said on Monday the deforestation of the Amazon rain forest fell by 30 percent in the 12 months up to August but it failed to convince environmentalists there would be a lasting effect.

Based on satellite images, the government's space agency Inpe estimated 7,297 square miles (18,900 square km), an area nearly the size of New Jersey, were razed in the world's largest tropical forest.

"It is still an absolutely scandalous figure," said Paulo Adario, Amazon campaign coordinator with Greenpeace.

That figure was down from a revised 10,500 square miles (27,200 square km) during the same period a year earlier. It is the first reduction in the deforestation rate since 2000-2001 and the largest since the 1995-96 period, when the rate fell 37 percent from a high of 11,216 square miles (29,050 square km). An Inpe official said the definitive rate for the 2004-05 season would vary by no more than 5 percent.

The government has been eager to announce a success story after poor third quarter economic growth figures came out last week and President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's popularity ratings fell to a low last month.

But environmentalists were not so cheered by the figures.

Adario said one-time government policing explained much of the improvement. He cited strong Army presence in the northeastern Para state after Sister Dorothy Stang, a champion of the poor and the environment, was slain in February by gunmen. Her assassination drew renewed international attention to the destruction of the Amazon forest.

US and Brazilian forest experts said in October that damage to the Amazon may be twice as large as previously thought due to undetected "selective" logging, where individual trees are picked out of the forest.

They said that taking into account selective logging, damage was between 60 percent and 128 percent higher than the officially deforested area between 1999 and 2002.

Government officials said on Monday increased control and prevention had been the key to slowing the rate of destruction.

"Our big advance this year was deterrence," said Joao Paulo Capobianco, head of forestry and bio-diversity at the Environment Ministry. Some of the largest reduction in deforestation came in the region of Para state where the government created additional forest reserves and deployed army troops in the wake of Sister Stang's slaying, Inpe maps showed.

Other environmentalists say lower soybean prices meant farmers had less incentive to push deeper into the forest.

"Any reduction of deforestation is good news but it is too early to tell whether the rates will continue falling," said Mauro Armelin, public policy coordinator with World Wildlife Fund in Brasilia.

Armelin called on the government to commit publicly to a long-term deforestation target. "We don't know what the objective of public policies are," Armelin said. "Do they want eliminate deforestation or simply reduce it?"

Environment Minister Marina Silva also adopted a cautious tone. "Our big challenge now is to make sure that these results are constant and that [government] action is not only seasonal," she said. Silva said control measures needed to be complemented with sustainable development projects.

PlanetSave 6 Dec 05
Brazil government announces 31 percent drop in Amazon destruction

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP): The Amazon rain forest lost 7,300 square miles -- an area more than half the size of Maryland -- but deforestation slowed by nearly a third this year, Brazilian officials said Monday.

The rain forest lost 7,300 square miles between July 2004 and August 2005, down from 10,500 square miles in the same period the year before, Environment Minister Marina Silva said.

Silva credited increased law enforcement and stringent environmental regulation. "The effort that has been carried out by a group of government agencies ... demonstrates results,'' Silva said.

Silva said the largest decline in deforestation was along the edge of the highway running from the midwestern city of Cuiaba to the Amazon River port in Santarem.

Government plans to pave the highway have increased land speculation in the region.

Environmentalists warn the plan could lead to the destruction of a huge swath of the jungle, while the government says that such destruction can be avoided with careful planning.

"The government is celebrating today, but we don't see any reason for a party,'' said Paulo Adario, coordinator of Greenpeace's Amazon program. Adario said the amount of forest destroyed "is still incredibly high and unacceptable.''

Announcement of the reduction comes just days before an international group that promotes a balance between logging and conservation is scheduled to gather in Manaus, some 1,700 miles northwest of Sao Paulo.

The Forest Stewardship Council certifies that forest products are harvested in accordance with environmental policies.

Scientists say deforestation reduces the area's biodiversity and contributes to global warming.

Burning in the Brazilian Amazon releases about 370 million tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every year -- about 5 percent of the world total. Brazil's rain forest is as big as Western Europe and covers 60 percent of the country's territory.

Experts say as much as 20 percent of its 1.6 million square miles has already been destroyed by development, logging and farming.

WWF 7 Dec 05
Deforestation rates decrease in the Amazon

Brasilia, Brazil:The Brazilian government announced that the deforestation of the Amazon fell by 30 per cent in the twelve months up to August. This is the first reduction in the deforestation rates since 2001 and 2000 and the largest since the 1995-96 period, when the rate fell 37 pre cent from a high of 29,050km2.

"The challenge is now to further advance with this decrease," stressed Denise Hamu, CEO of WWF-Brazil.

According to WWF-Brazil, a number of factors may explain the decrease. These include a reduction in the price of soy, Brazil's most important agricultural commodity, which may have reduced the incentive to cut down the Amazon. The price of soy dropped between March 2004 and August 2005 by 36 per cent.

"If agriculture commodities do recover, those who destroy the forest will choose to pay a fine rather than stop cutting down trees," said Mauro Armelin, WWF-Brazil's public policy officer.

"What we want to know is what annual percentage decrease does the government want to achieve? If the government has no clear goals, it will be very difficult to assess long term plans and results."

"The government as a whole and not just one ministry should work to halting deforestation in the Amazon," added Claudio Maretti, head of WWF-Brazil's protected areas programme. "More protected areas should be created, a forest based economy supported, and illegal land occupancy stopped."

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