Brazilian government is biggest destroyer of the Amazon rainforest
September 30, 2008
Speaking Monday, Environment Minister Carlos Minc said that the Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (Incra) was responsible for the clearing of 220,000 hectares (550,000 acres) of rainforest on six Amazon properties. The six properties are the largest deforested areas in the entire Brazilian Amazon since 2005.
INCRA, an agency that is supposed to help poor communities find land to settle and develop, has been harshly criticized by scientists and environmentalists in recent years. Last year an eight-month investigation by Greenpeace found that INCRA may be working with logging firms to profit from land reform initiatives.
Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. Image courtesy of Google Earth
In 2006 INCRA created 97 "sustainable development settlements" (PDS) covering 2.2 million hectares near Santarém in Pará, the Amazonian state where American nun Dorothy Stang was gunned down in 2005.
"All these settlements were created in the last three months of last year," an INCRA employee told The Independent last August. "It was the end of Lula's first term so he had to accomplish the targets. It is politicians who will benefit from the PDS system."
In his remarks Monday, Minc also said that deforestation in August 2008 was 760 square kilometers, more than tree times the 230 square kilometers lost in August 2007.
This week Brazil will release a plan to reduce net forest clearing to zero by 2015. The plan is expected to rely heavily on the conversion of natural forest to industrial forest plantations to meet its goal.
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