Brazil to send more police into the Amazon to fight illegal logging
July 23, 2008
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva signed two decrees Tuesday to rein in illegal forest clearing in the Amazon, reports the Associated Press (AP).
The first gives law enforcement the power to seize property and goods from people caught with illegally logged timber. It also reduces the time when landowners can appeal environmental fines from eight years to one.
The second decree increases the number of police in the Amazon region.
According to the AP Silva said the measures will head off a potential boycott of Brazilian agricultural products by European consumers.
Brazil accounted for nearly half of global tropical forest loss between 2000 and 2005.
“Not protecting the environment would hurt Brazil’s competitive advantage,” Silva was quoted as saying. “We’d be shooting ourselves in the foot.”
Brazil has recently a spate of initiatives to promote better environmental performance by commodity producers in the Amazon. At the same time, industry groups — including soy, beef, and timber associations — have announced their own certification schemes for their products.
After a three year decline in deforestation, forest clearing in the Brazilian Amazon is expected to rise in the 2007-2008 year. High commodity prices have been blamed for the increase.
Overall about 20 percent of the Brazilian Amazon has been cleared since the late 1970s. Still the Amazon remains the largest rainforest on Earth. More than 60 percent of the forest lies in Brazil.