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7000 sq km of Amazon rainforest destroyed in late 2007 says Greenpeace

7000 sq km of Amazon rainforest destroyed from Aug-Dec 2007 says Greenpeace

7000 sq km of Amazon rainforest destroyed in late 2007 says Greenpeace
January 25, 2008

Brazilian government figures will likely show that more than 7,000 square kilometers of Amazon rainforest were destroyed between August and the end December 2007, said environmental group Greenpeace.

Wednesday Brazil released preliminary figures showing that 3,235 square kilometers of forest were cleared between August 2007 and the end of the year, but cautioned that higher resolution satellite imagery would reveal that nearly twice that area had been destroyed. Greenpeace estimated that the final figure would likely exceed 7,000 square kilometers.

Analysts expected a big jump in deforestation this year due to surging demand for soy and beef, prices of which are increasingly correlated with forest clearing in the Amazon. With soy and beef near all-time highs, the Amazon states of Mato Grosso and Para saw near-record numbers of fires from August-October as cattle ranchers and industrial soy farmers burned large tracts of rainforest to establish new agricultural land.

Greenpeace said it the rise in deforestation shows that Brazil needs to structural reforms to protect the Amazon from increased demand for agricultural product.

“The Brazilian government can not claim to be caught by surprise. Greenpeace warned throughout last year that increases in the price of soya and beef meant that unless urgent counter measures were taken deforestation would rise” said Paulo Adario, Greenpeace Amazon coordinator. “If Lula is serious about Brazil being a world leader in the fight against deforestation then he must implement long-term solid measures to ensure the Amazon cannot fall victim to deforestation as a result of rising commodity prices.”

Greenpeace warned that without effective government action, deforestation rates may worsen in 2008, an election year when “authorities are likely to turn a blind eye to forest clearance to secure votes.”

To reign in deforestation Greenpeace urged the Lula government to map rural properties and ownership; curb illegal occupation of public land; implement harsh penalties for illegal deforestation; drive development to areas away from the rainforest; and increase support to sustainable activities.


Amazon deforestation jumps in the second half of 2007
Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon rose sharply in the second half of 2007 as a result of surging prices for beef and grain, said a top Brazilian environmental official.

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