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20% of Amazon timber illegally harvested from protected areas

20% of Amazon timber illegally harvested from protected areas

20% of Amazon timber illegally harvested from protected areas
July 5, 2008

20 percent of Amazon timber is illegally harvested from protected areas according to a report published in O’Globo.

The report, based on data from Brazil’s environmental enforcement agency Ibama, says that deforestation in protected areas increased 6.4 percent since 2006. Overall 22 percent of Amazon deforestation was recorded in reserves.

Brazil’s minister of the environment called the findings “horrendous”.

“It’s a terrible number, it is horrendous,” said Carlos Minc, who became the country’s environmental minister in May. “It’s not enough to create an area in maps, on paper to guarantee the conservation of the rainforest.”

Minc said he will hire 120 specialists to analyze the current effectiveness of protected areas.

The report comes as Brazil is in the midst of a crackdown on illegal activities in the Amazon. The law enforcement effort — triggered by a jump in deforestation in the second half of 2007 — has included raids on iron mills, farms, ranches, and sawmills. In June authorities announced the seizure of more than 3,000 head of cattle found to be grazing on illegally deforested lands. Ranchers and farmers have recently launched initiatives — including a moratorium on soy and certification schemes for beef and cane ethanol — to improve the environmental performance of agricultural production in the region.

Brazil houses more than 60 percent of the Amazon rainforest, the world’s largest tropical forest. Over the past 30 years nearly one-fifth of the forest area has been cleared, largely for agriculture and cattle pasture. Scientists estimate the forest may be home to one quarter of the world’s land-based plant and animal species as well as the largest population of indigenous people still living in traditional ways.

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