Amazon deforestation rates drop 20% in 2007
December 8, 2007

Deforestation rates in Brazil's Amazon rainforest dropped 20 percent since last year, reported the Brazilian National Institute of Space Research (INPE).

The preliminary figures -- based on the government's PRODES-satellite tracking system for deforestation in the region and revised upward from estimates released in August -- show that between August 2006 and July 2007, 11,224 square kilometers of forest were cleared, down from 14,040 square kilometers during the prior year period. Final figures will be released next year.

Deforestation rates have dropped sharply in Brazil since peaking at 27,429 square kilometers in 2004. While the Brazilian government credits increased enforcement and the establishment of massive forest reserves for slowing deforestation rates, analysts say commodity prices and currency fluctuations are important drivers of forest clearing. As soy prices have spiked in recent months, there are signs that deforestation is again on the upswing. Data from Brazil's Real Time Deforestation Monitoring System (DETER) system suggests that forest clearing has increased most in the states of Para and Mato Grosso where most of the region's soy and cattle are produced. By some measures, the number of fires in the Amazon approached stood near record levels this past summer.

The new figures show that the states of Para (5,569 sq km), Mato Grosso (2,476 sq km) and Rondonia (1,465 sq km) together accounted for 85 percent of deforestation in the Amazon in the period 2006-2007.

The latest numbers have been refined from earlier estimates. This past August, INPE said that 3,707 square miles (9,600 square kilometers) of rainforest were cleared between August 1, 2006 and July 30, 2007. The newly released figures are about 17 percent higher.

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CITATION: (December 08, 2007).

Amazon deforestation rates drop 20% in 2007.