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Amazon deforestation jumps 69% in 2008

Amazon deforestation jumps 69% in 2008 according to preliminary data

Amazon deforestation jumps 69% in 2008
August 31, 2008

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon increased 69 percent in the past 12 months as high commodity prices have driven forest conversion for ranches and cropland, according to preliminary figures released by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE). The increase comes after three consecutive years of declining deforestation in Brazil.

INPE data shows that 8,147 square kilometers (3,145 square miles) of forest were cleared between August 2007 and August 2008, a 69 percent increase over the 4,820 square kilometers (1,861 square miles) razed in the previous period [see note below]. Degradation due to logging affects a larger area but is not reported in INPE figures.

The rise in forest destruction had been expected. High prices for beef and soy — commodities increasingly produced in the Amazon region — have spurred an uptick in land speculation and new agricultural development.

Brazil accounted for the bulk of tropical forest loss between 2000 and 2005.

Anticipating criticism for the acceleration, the Brazilian government has this year unveiled a raft of initiatives to rein in illegal deforestation, including offering payments and other financial incentives to landowners for keeping forest standing, increasing fines for illegal deforestation, and giving authorities the power to seize property and goods from people involved in illicit logging. The number of federal police operating in the Amazon has been increased and several new protected areas have been established. Brazil has also proposed a $21 billion fund for conserving the Amazon and promoting sustainable development, while the beef, soy, and logging industries have developed their own initiatives to improve the environmental performance of their products.

The Brazilian Amazon consists of about 4.1 million square kilometers, of which about 3.4 million are forested. 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.


Future threats to the Amazon rainforest
(7/31/2008) Between June 2000 and June 2008, more than 150,000 square kilometers of rainforest were cleared in the Brazilian Amazon. While deforestation rates have slowed since 2004, forest loss is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. This is a look at past, current and potential future drivers of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.

Global Commodities Boom Fuels New Assault on Amazon
(6/20/2008) With soaring prices for agricultural goods and new demand for biofuels, the clearing of the world’s largest rain forest has accelerated dramatically. Unless forceful measures are taken, half of the Brazilian Amazon could be cut, burned or dried out within 20 years.

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